Report: One-third of NC workers don’t earn living wage

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new report by the N.C. Justice Center shows many working people in North Carolina still aren’t making enough to get by.

The latest numbers show North Carolina is struggling to create jobs that pay enough for people to live.

A poverty-level wage for a family of four is $11.65. A third of workers in the state earn less than that, meaning they can’t support themselves or their families. That’s the second worst in the country and it’s a huge issue locally too.

Local experts tell WNCT part of the problem is shrinking middle-class jobs and growing lower class jobs. Many jobs are part-time or temporary or don’t have a lot of opportunity for advancement, requiring people to learn other skills first.

Pitt County Director of Social Services Jan Elliott says much of the problem in the East is that many available jobs pay less.

“We do have a tremendous number of service occupations and that is what is growing. Our healthcare sector that, part of what is growing there is low skill labor. Part of what is growing throughout the community is the low skill service types of jobs,” Elliott said.

Elliott says it’s going to take significant policy changes on the state and national levels to correct this. She says raising the minimum wage and a state earned income tax credit would help.

Elliott says she was surprised by the state’s ranking, but recognizes it’s an issue.

“In the south, we have typically been a lower wage population. The types of industries that we’ve had here. I think additionally the types of industries that we’ve lost that allowed folks to make a decent wage and not have a college education and those kinds of things, those are some of the jobs that have disappeared,” Elliott said.

Pitt County found 21% of its food stamp recipients maintained full-time jobs but still needed that assistance to feed their families.

There are educational and job skill training resources available in Pitt County. For more information on those, contact the Department of Social Services at 252-902-1110.

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