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What does it mean to earn a living wage?


Photographer Jenelle Botts


A minimum wage job makes it nearly impossible for a single person to afford rent in the Triangle Area, let alone support a family. According to the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End Homelessness, partnershipwake.org, the Fair Market Rent in our area for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,022. Imagine trying to feed and house a family of four when earning minimum wage. To afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, at $7.25 an hour (the federal minimum wage) requires working 123 hours a week. For an apartment to be affordable on a minimum wage salary, the apartment would need to be $377 a month. That does not exist here in the Triangle. 

Cost-burdened Families

While our community has enjoyed great overall success, keeping it an affordable place to live raises challenges. According to tech trade group CompTIA's annual survey, Raleigh high-tech jobs continue to grow in Raleigh, with salaries averaging nearly $94,000. That presents a significant divide between those earning minimum wage and those that do not.

For many, the majority of their salary goes towards rent or a mortgage, which means folks face tough struggles each month. Those who are cost-burdened due to unaffordable housing means a household spends more than 30% of their income on housing-related expenses. That leaves little cash left over to cover other bills, putting many one crisis away from losing their home.

Living Wage Increase

As many in the Triangle deal with the economic fallout from the global pandemic resulting in job losses and evictions, living wage discussions are becoming more prominent. At Designed For Joy, we advocate for a living wage. We currently pay our artisans $13.76 per hour, which is the living wage deemed by the city of Raleigh. In 2021, our goal is to raise our original living wage pay from $13.76 an hour to $15.00 an hour.

When you donate to Designed For Joy, you provide sustainable help for women climbing out of poverty. 

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By Paige Hachet Jacob
Freelance writer and editor with work featured in North Carolina publications such as Newcomer, Life Health, Southern Bride & Groom, Wake Living, Walter Magazine and more.