EARN in the South

EARN in the South is a cross-state initiative to develop a pragmatic, but aspirational agenda for improving economic conditions for working families in the South.

Historically, EARN has supported work in states on a range of efforts to improve conditions for working families. Yet, the specific initiatives often have seemed beyond the reach of groups operating in more conservative areas, leaving them to feel that they cannot be full participants in EARN’s core mission. At the December 2016 EARN conference, a workshop titled “EARN in the Red” invited the directors of EARN’s state organizations to discuss opportunities for cross-state work, with a focus on how EARN can support work in the South. Subsequent discussions led to a September 2017 meeting in Atlanta, where representatives from 12 southern EARN groups and advocacy or organizing collaborators from each state discussed the unique challenges of work in the South and began developing a shared framework for advancing worker-centric economic policy in the region.

With an explicit recognition of the centrality of race in the economic and cultural history of the South, the 13 Southern EARN groups involved in this effort have insisted that this work include, from its inception, advocacy and organizing partners who represent affected communities. As a first step, southern EARN groups and their state collaborators will jointly develop a framework for action that can achieve visible successes, however incremental, while offering opportunities to build public support and advance a broader progressive economic agenda.

Publications

How to Build An Economy that Works for All: Raise the State Minimum Wage

North Carolina needs an economy that works for all and ensures broadly shared prosperity. That means creating jobs that pay workers enough to afford the basics for themselves and their families—enough to buy groceries, pay the rent, put gas in the car, and keep their children in day care. Unfortunately, the jobs that paid decent wages are largely vanishing, as low-wage service jobs replace the manufacturing positions that once provided generations of North Carolinians with vital pathways to the middle class. This trend has only accelerated since the end of the Great Recession.

Raising the minimum wage in North Carolina provides a critical antidote to the ongoing boom in low-wage work. The state’s current minimum wage is identical to the nation’s wage at $7.25 an hour. But our elected officials have the opportunity to join a growing list of state governments— including Arkansas, Nebraska, Alaska, South Dakota, New York, and California—that have recently acted to raise the wage floor for employers within their jurisdictions. These states have recognized that the current national minimum wage simply doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet, and that by raising their own wage floors they can help workers and boost their overall economies. Joining this movement will benefit North Carolina’s businesses, help workers, and boost the state’s overall economy.