50 women voting on how we spend $100,000

Working Hard For Little Money | Raleigh Living Wage

Photo by Christy Johnson

For many in Wake County, paychecks likely don't stretch as far as they should. Once the rent or mortgage is paid, there is often little left to cover other essential expenses, such as food and utilities. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage Calculator Study, compiled by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, found in the Triangle area, those with two working adults and two children, need an estimated combined income before taxes of roughly $65,000. This salary was calculated to cover typical expenses such as food, housing, childcare, transportation, and medical care. That leaves little left over for an emergency or unexpected expense.

The salary amount came from their 2017 report which states, "A typical family of four (two working adults, two children) needs to work nearly four full-time minimum-wage jobs (a 76-hour work week per working adult) to earn a living wage."

The disparity between people with money and those without is a widely discussed topic these days. For those who feel they are barely getting by, that discrepancy likely seems like a significant divide. There is a school of thought that paying workers a living wage, as opposed to the minimum wage, might actually help those struggling to cover necessities, such as rent and food. In turn, this could help decrease the need for on-going government assistance.

The difference between a living wage and minimum wage is the minimum wage fails to provide a salary people can actually live on. The minimum wage was set to prevent our society from letting families slip through the cracks. Yet, it fails to come close to covering the necessary expenses for a family in today's economy.

The necessary hourly rate considered a living wage varies, but Raleigh has determined a specific amount that warrants more discussion. "We match the City of Raleigh's living wage of $13.76. Is $13.76 a true living wage? It's debatable, but it's a great place to begin the conversation," said Designed For Joy Director, Cary Heise. 

At Designed For Joy, we strive to pay our artisans a living wage to battle the cycle of poverty and help families stay out of a desperate situation.


You can provide safe and dignified work for survivors of human trafficking, overcomers of substance abuse, those creating safe housing after homelessness and other vulnerable situations with $13.76, one hour of living wage pay, a month.

Help us reach our goal of 1000 monthly donors to continue funding our transitional work experience for our community's most vulnerable women.

Donate here.



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.

Photo by 627 Photography