By Chris Lovingood

December 16, 2021

Unionization movements among workers for Starbucks and Amazon; sick-outs among school bus drivers and protests by fast food workers; a record number of resignations across the country – all are linked to the fight for a “living wage.” Many have been focused on raising starting salaries to $15 per hour. So, WRAL News wanted to know whether that amount would truly be a “living wage” in the Triangle, where inflation combines with soaring real estate demand.

Tracy Harter makes $15 per hour as a housekeeper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I love my job, and I love the students,” she said.

Her paycheck covers the cost of living for Harter and her dog, Little Man.

“When you start thinking about everything from housing to food to childcare to energy, all those kinds of things add up, said Dr. Henry McKoy, director of entrepreneurship at North Carolina Central University.

McKoy, once the assistant secretary of commerce for North Carolina, says $15 an hour in the Triangle isn’t a living wage, pointing out that the wage-to-inflation ratio isn’t balanced.

“You’ve had this situation where technology has been displacing folks. Folks’ income hasn’t been rising at the same rate as goods as services, and so that’s problematic,” McKoy says.