Chapel Hill, NC, Jan. 4, 2024 – Orange County’s newly updated 2024 living wage for hourly workers is $17.65 an hour, or $16.15 an hour 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. The 2023 living wage was $16.60 an hour, or $15.10 an hour for employers who pay at least half of employees’ health insurance costs.
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 366 employers have certified as paying all full- and part-time employees the living wage. The 264 employers on OCLW’s current roster employ more than 8,500 employees in Orange County. In the past year, 25 new employers were recognized for their commitment to paying a living wage.
“On July 24, 2024, we will mark 15 years since the federal minimum hourly wage has been raised,” says OCLW Director Debbie Everly. “We proudly certify employers in Orange County who pay their workers a living wage. These employers are not only investing in our local economy; they are paying the necessary wage for workers to purchase essential items and live closer to their jobs. Those of us who can live close to where we work may not think about the sacrifices made by those with long commutes – less time with family, less time helping kids with homework, less time to relax, less time and ability to attend teacher conferences, children’s events, and more. Being paid a living wage can lift individuals and families in immeasurable ways.”
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 more than $3 million, with over $225,000 stemming from 2023 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 apply to become a certified living wage employer at orangecountylivingwage.org.