Orange County Living Wage has updated its 2023 hourly living wage to $16.60, or $15.10 for employers who pay at least half of employees’ health insurance costs. This is a 75-cent increase from last year's living wage.
OCLW adjusts its living wage annually to reflect increasing rent prices across Alamance, Chatham, Durham and Orange counties.
Alaina Plauche, a board member of OCLW, said the organization was founded to address the discrepancies between increasing rent prices and the stagnation of federal and state minimum wages.
“We're helping support and encourage local businesses who employ the people who live and work here and make up the community,” Plauche said. “We're just here to support and encourage them to pay their workers a living wage.”
OCLW incentivizes local businesses to pay their workers a living wage by certifying and providing publicity to the companies that meet the hourly wage minimum.
“The impetus for starting Orange County Living Wage was a desire for a more equitable community and better workplace environments for people living in our community and in the county,” Plauche said.
Back Alley Bikes, a worker-owned bicycle shop in Carrboro, is one of OCLW’s 266 living wage-certified employers.
Tamara Sanders, a store manager, said she looks to OCLW for guidance on identifying and quantifying what a living wage should be.
Sanders also said one reason she pays her employees a living wage is so that they are able to afford rent and live in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Paying a living wage, she said, also helps her business retain employees.