Wake County

Wake to raise minimum employee pay

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday is expected to raise the base pay for full-time county employees, giving raises to an estimated 75 workers.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25. Wake’s base pay for full-time employees is $11.08 an hour, according to county spokeswoman Dara Demi. Board members say they’ll vote to raise it to $13.50 an hour at their 2 p.m. meeting.

“If you work a full-time job serving the citizens of Wake County, you ought to make enough to get by,” said Commissioner Matt Calabria. “The new living wage threshold is based on data related to cost of living.”

Calabria said he started researching the issue nearly a year ago. Raising the base wage will cost the county an additional $93,000 but is the right thing to do and will likely yield good results, he said.

“Folks who can make ends meet have higher morale and lower absences,” Calabria said.

The wage increase is one way to continue addressing poverty, which Calabria and other members of the all-Democrat board vowed to prioritize after they took office last year.

He and other commissioners plan to offer details during a news conference at 10 a.m. Monday in the Wake County Justice Center.

They’ll be joined by employees who will benefit from the move, including several who work at the Wake County Animal Center on Beacon Lake Drive.

A dozen of the center’s 40 employees will receive pay bumps and seven will have their salaries increased by $3,000, said Jennifer Federico, the center director.

Her staff cares for more than 12,000 animals a year, cleaning them and their cages and helping with the adoption process. Many work four, 10-hour days a week.

“It’s not the most glamorous of jobs,” Federico said. “They work their butts off.”

In adopting the new wage, Wake will become just the fourth North Carolina county with a wage ordinance, according to Calabria.

Buncombe pays a minimum of $12.50 an hour, Durham pays $12.53 an hour and Orange pays $12.76 an hour.

Five other cities also have wage bases: $12.50 in Asheville, $12.53 in Durham, $12 in Greensboro, $14.98 in Carrboro and $12.53 in Chapel Hill.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht