Local News

As minimum wage increases, low-income families still struggle

Posted July 23, 2008 5:44 p.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2008 7:46 p.m. EDT

— If the law of averages really worked, then the upcoming hike in the minimum wage would help offset consumers' surging fuel and food costs.

A good balance, right? Don't count on it.

Come Thursday, the national minimum wage will go up, from $5.85 an hour to $6.55 an hour. North Carolina's minimum wage is also increasing from $6.15 to $6.55. However, even as wages rise, many people are still struggling to get by.

Traniece Neals is a single mother of two children. She is looking for a new job through the Employment Security Commission. Neals recently left a fast food job, making close to minimum wage, and barely getting by.

It "was like $120 dollars a week and it wasn't doing nothing for me,” she said. “I'm so glad the minimum wage is going up. I need that. ...We need that, us single parents out here."

However, with rising food and fuel costs, many people say the new minimum wage, doesn't come close to a livable wage.

“Raising the minimum wage, while helpful and important, isn't necessarily going to change some of these larger questions,” said John Quinterno, with advocacy group N.C. Budget and Tax Center.

A recent study by the N.C. Budget and Tax Center found a family with children living in Wake County would need to make about $50,000 a year to truly afford essentials like housing, health care and child care.

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the wages and benefits that are offered by many jobs and what it actually costs to support a family with children,” Quinterno added.

While the minimum wage increase may not be enough to support her family, Neals said she is grateful for any increase.

“It'll help a little bit though, because every quarter, every dime, every dollar counts,” she said.

It is estimated about 600,000 state workers will be impacted by the raise.

The national minimum wage will increase again next year to $7.25 an hour.