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In North Carolina the minimum wage isn’t enough to support an individual, let alone a family. Our minimum wage has remained stagnant at $7.25/hour for years, which is completely unacceptable when the majority of minimum wage earners are women, many of whom are supporting children during these increasingly expensive times.

As the daughter of elderly parents, I can relate, but still only in a small way to what single mothers with small children and aging parents have on their plates.  As the Shriver Report described it, women are brushing the hair of their children with one hand while administering medication to aging parents with the other.  Why should this be the norm?  For the good of every generation we should examine our motives if we are trying to keep families from prospering.

Raising a family shouldn’t mean living in poverty, but low-wage workers have no choice in the matter. At $7.25/hour, a parent supporting two kids could work 52 hours a week and never take a vacation and would still be living in poverty. For low-income workers, that simply isn’t a possibility.

Workers face tough choices every day. Should they stay home and care for a sick child or should they go to work so they can afford to feed the whole family? There are a number of policies that would remove barriers to low-wage workers’ economic security and help close the wage gap, but the simplest way is to raise the minimum wage so they earn a living wage.

When workers earn a living wage, the whole community benefits. Local businesses get new customers who previously couldn’t afford to shop there. Taxpayers spend less on poverty-reducing programs helping to support low-income North Carolinians because they are being paid enough to support themselves.

More jobs are created when workers have more money in their pockets that they can spend at local businesses. The same cannot be said for the money that currently goes to mega-corporations who pay poverty wages. Those profits leave North Carolina, destined for off-shore bank accounts and Wall Street.

We should be keeping that money in North Carolina, investing it in our workers who will put it right back into our economy.

That is why the PSN National Week of Action is so important.  When state legislators from across the country join together with great organizations like Moms Rising—we can bring us that much closer to securing real prosperity for all Americans.


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