Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that Bowbarr has certified as a living wage employer.

Bowbarr is a bar on West Rosemary Street specializing in cocktails and community gathering space. You can also order wine or gifts on their website for pick up or delivery.

Learn more by visiting

Listen as WCHL shares the news of Bowbarr’s living wage certification! 

Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that The Beehive has certified as a living wage employer.

The Beehive is a fun, funky salon buzzing in the heart of downtown Carrboro, on East Weaver Street. They are a Green Circle Salon Certified salon, and they offer gallery space for local artists as part of the Second Friday Art Walk.

They have been keeping Carrboro cute for more than 15 years!

Learn more by visiting

Listen as WCHL shares the news of The Beehive’s living wage certification! 

Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that Afton Nature School has certified as a living wage employer.

The Carrboro-based preschool has decided to pay their teachers a living wage because they “appreciate their hard work. [We] want them to … keep doing what they love — teaching children!”

The school’s mission is to provide young learners with engaging and enjoyable play experiences that maximize their intellectual, social, and physical development. The design of the program provides for a joyful childhood while preparing students to enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

Learn more about the Afton Nature School by visiting

Listen as WCHL shares the news of Afton Nature School’s living wage certification! 


Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that The Meantime Coffee Co. has certified as a living wage employer.

The Meantime Coffee Co. is a student-run nonprofit coffee shop right in the heart of UNC’s campus, partnering with Carrboro Coffee Roasters to bring Chapel Hill the finest and freshest coffee from around the world. They’ve decided to pay a living wage because, according to CEO Alaina Plauche: “We care about the well-being of our baristas. The current minimum wage is not enough to sustain today’s cost of living. And, as everyone at Meantime is a student, it’s even more important to ensure a living wage because we have tuition costs to worry about.”

Learn more at

Listen as WCHL shares the news of The Meantime Coffee Co.’s living wage certification! 

Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that The Lupine School has certified as a living wage employer.

The Lupine School is a community preschool where the idea of a simple childhood is valued. Its home at 1870 Farm is the perfect spot for nature-based exploration and adventure.

“It is really important to make sure the teachers at our school feel respected, valued, and well compensated for the incredibly important work they do! We are working with the youngest citizens in our community. Cultivating compassion and teaching them what it means to live in a democratic society where their voices matter. That needs to extend not just to the children in our care and their families, but to our employees!” – Amy Magrinat, Director and Teacher

Learn more at

Listen as WCHL shares the news of The Lupine School’s living wage certification! 


By Roxana Boyd

During a transformative year, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro became a living wage employer to stay true to its mission and help its employees thrive in their community.

After learning more about the Orange County Living Wage program, The ArtsCenter joined the roster of living wage employers in October. As the county’s largest employer of artists, The ArtsCenter understood the importance of paying employees a living wage and saw it as a vital component of its arts education mission. 

The ArtsCenter’s nine staff members work collaboratively to serve more than 100,000 students and citizens through classes, performances, and art exhibits. Ensuring accessibility for these individuals is another fundamental tenet for the organization, said Deputy Director Mark Bettger. He said accessibility includes removing cost as a barrier and paying employees a living wage.

In providing a living wage, The ArtsCenter hopes these resources will help employees live in the community instead of commuting from further away. For an arts organization, this creates and fosters better partnerships and creativity.

“We all benefit when the employees are invested in their community and want to try and stay and put down roots here,” said Bettger. “They can be better engrained, better in tune, and contribute to the quality of life here in Orange County.” 

The living wage certification has shown The ArtsCenter’s investment in its staff, he said. “I think from a staffing perspective, it’s a very positive benefit.”

The ArtsCenter has experienced a transformative year – “a reset,” said Bettger. After joining The ArtsCenter in the early months of the pandemic, Bettger helped bring in new staff with new perspectives. Together, they are working to take The ArtsCenter “to the next level.”


Listen as WCHL shares the news of The ArtsCenter’s living wage certification! 

Orange County’s newly updated 2022 living wage for hourly workers is $15.85 an hour, or $14.35 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-bed apartment in a four-county area including Alamance, Chatham, Durham and Orange counties.

After the longest period in history without a federal wage increase, North Carolina’s minimum wage is the same as the national minimum wage of $7.25. This wage is worth 21% less than in 2009, when the wage was last increased. The District of Columbia and 29 states have higher minimum wages than the $7.25 required for non-tipped workers. With the new year, 21 states have announced additional wage increases that will take effect in 2022.

Since Orange County Living Wage’s voluntary employer certification program began in 2015, nearly 300 employers have certified as paying all full- and part-time employees the living wage. The 218 employers on OCLW’s current roster employ more than 9500 employees in Orange County. In this past year of unprecedented health and financial challenges, 34 new employers were recognized for their commitment to pay a living wage.

“The pandemic has shined the spotlight on workers and wages, and the essential services that thousands of employees in Orange County provide day in and day out,” says OCLW Director Susan Romaine. “A $15.85 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, pharmacies, and more. We applaud our 218 certified living wage employers for their leadership in the community and priorities in the workplace, now more than ever.”

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 $1.85 million, with over $900,000 from 2021 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

Orange County Living Wage is pleased to announce that Brandwein’s Bagels has certified as a living wage employer.

Celebrate with them by paying a visit to their West Rosemary Street location and stocking up on your favorite bagels – made in the classic New York style, but boiled and baked right here in Chapel Hill. 

“We reap the benefits of this [living wage] commitment to our team in countless ways,” says Alex Brandwein. “Their strong work ethic and their dedication to the mission of the business creates a better work environment, which, in turn, produces a better product and better experiences for our customers in the larger community.” 

Learn more about Brandwein’s at For a complete list of certified living wage employers, click here

Orange County Living Wage is announcing that E & W Electrical has certified as a living wage employer! E & W Electrical is a “locally owned power systems provider focusing on complete generator solutions.” They believe that “rewarding employees [with living wages] for their knowledge, skills, and contributions is the platform to retain a skilled workforce.”