Orange County’s newly updated 2023 living wage for hourly workers is $16.60 an hour, or $15.10 for employers who pay at least half of employees’ health insurance costs. Orange County Living Wage (OCLW) adjusts the living wage annually to keep pace with rising rents.
OCLW determines its living wage by using the widely accepted Universal Living Wage Formula based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standard that no more than 30% of a person’s gross income should be devoted to housing. To calculate the wage, OCLW uses the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in a four-county area including Alamance, Chatham, Durham, and Orange counties.
Since Orange County Living Wage’s voluntary employer certification program began in 2015, nearly 340 employers have certified as paying all full- and part-time employees the living wage. The 266 employers on OCLW’s current roster employ about 9,000 employees in Orange County. In this past year of record inflation, 48 new employers were recognized for their commitment to paying a living wage.
“Someone earning $7.25 per hour will gross $15,080, if they work 40 hours a week all year. In this time of rising costs, it is completely insufficient,” says OCLW Director Susan Romaine. “A $16.60 hourly wage reflects the minimum wage necessary for workers to live close enough to our county to provide essential services like staffing our hospitals, schools, police and fire departments, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, nonprofits, and more. We commend our 266 certified living wage employers for their leadership in the local economy and for prioritizing their workers.”
When a business or organization certifies as a living wage employer, OCLW calculates the total amount they raised wages to meet the living wage threshold. Since 2015, that total is $2.8 million, with over $950,000 stemming from 2022 wage increases alone – money that is often spent in Orange County.
Learn more about Orange County Living Wage, view postings on the living wage jobs board, or fill out the free application to become a certified living wage employer at orangecountylivingwage.org.