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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Labor Day Hangover: Low Wages Plague NC Citizens

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016   

RALEIGH, N.C. – Thousands of North Carolinians enjoyed a welcome reprieve from work during the long Labor Day weekend, but many of them are returning to work today, making less money than they need to pay their basic bills.

The minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25 an hour, about $5 short of what some consider a living wage in the state.

Marybe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of North Carolina AFL-CIO, says low wages trap workers in a cycle difficult to escape.

"Unfortunately, far too many working people are struggling because they are stuck in these jobs that pay wages that don't enable people to provide for their families," she states.

The AFL-CIO is among the groups behind the Fight for 15 campaign, aiming to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

New York and California recently raised their minimum wage to that amount.

The issue of raising the minimum wage is among those being discussed in the presidential campaign, with Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton supporting a raise, and Republican Donald Trump at times opposing it and at other times supporting it.

McMillan says studies show that entire communities benefit when everyone is paid a fair wage.

"Working people are what drive our economy,” she stresses. “We are consumers, so when we earn a living wage, when we have more money in our pockets, we spend more at businesses.

“We also are taxpayers, so we pay more in tax revenue which provides more revenue for our local government."

New research from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the decline of unions in the U.S. is impacting the income of all workers.

In addition, union workers earn 30 percent more on average than non-union workers.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.


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