by Paige Terryberry
Senior Analyst for Fiscal Policy, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina’s prosperity bewilders some people. Folks on the left struggle to articulate North Carolina’s growing economy that has benefitted dramatically from policies they claim “hurt the state.”
Some assert that absent heavy-handed government policies, North Carolina’s economy does not merit a standing ovation.
A week after North Carolina’s inaugural ranking as America’s Top State for Business according to CNBC, today’s Axios Raleigh newsletter chided the state’s labor laws, rehashing a laughable 2021 analysis from Oxfam America.
The Oxfam ranking cherry-picks a handful of wage policies. It does not look at the overall employment picture or acknowledge any downstream effects of the labor policies. Our state’s low minimum wage and right to work status earn us a low ranking. Ironically, as my colleague wrote on the Oxfam report release, the study does not look at policies that create more jobs and bigger paychecks. My colleague writes, “Minimum wage laws price low-skilled workers out of the workforce and right to work states experience greater job and income growth than states without such protection.”
The authors of the Oxfam study misinform readers and incite unnecessary alarm. Fortunately, the reality is different from what the authors would have you believe.
According to the Axios newsletter, “The low wages have made its biggest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh, some of the least affordable places for workers earning the minimum wage.”
In Charlotte, the average hourly wage for all occupations is $27.53, according to the latest regional employment data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest paying occupational group, food preparation and serving, pays on average $12.92 per hour, well above the minimum wage of $7.25. Today, some examples of open roles in Charlotte include:
Workers in the Raleigh metropolitan area had an average hourly wage of $28.15, above the national average, according to the latest regional data release. Again the lowest paying occupational group was food preparation and serving. The average hourly wage was $12.97, nearly twice the minimum wage.
Some examples of open roles in Raleigh include:
In short, the minimum wage is a non-factor in wages in Charlotte and Raleigh.
What is at the crux of the contradicting stories about North Carolina? The role of government. Over the last decade, North Carolina has spent within its means and given hard-earned dollars back to taxpayers where it belongs. Some claim, however, that the budget is starving and that your money is better used in Raleigh than in your own pockets. Limited government has proven otherwise.
North Carolina is an affordable and business-friendly place to live. A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed highlighted one New York Times opinion contributor’s move from New York to North Carolina. The NYT writer struggled to explain the success of more conservative states. The WSJ author states, “Will it ever occur to [the NYT writer] that conservatives advocating for limited government in a competitive political arena might just have something to do with North Carolina’s low costs and vibrant economy?”
North Carolina’s economic success story cannot be truthfully told without acknowledging the intentional conservative leadership of the last decade.