The living wage rate for Buncombe County has increased for 2024

An Asheville-based nonprofit has announced the new hourly living wage as well as a new starting rate for Pledged Living Wage employers.

Asheville skyline and mountains at sunset

The increase was due in large part to rising housing costs.

Let’s look at the numbers. Asheville-based nonprofit Just Economics of WNC announced that Buncombe County’s Living Wage Rate rose from $20.10 per hour in 2023 to $22.10 per hour (with or without benefits) in 2024. Just Economics’ formula is based on a single worker being able to qualify for a one-bedroom apartment in Buncombe County, based on a four-year average of the Fair Market Rent released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Just Economics sets this hourly living wage floor, but it also runs the largest voluntary living wage certification program in the country. More than 400 WNC employers have been Living Wage Certified since the program was launched in 2008. In 2023, the organization introduced the Pledged Living Wage certification, which sets a base hourly pay for the lowest paid employee and requires the employer to pledge to increase their rate of pay every year by 3% plus the cost of inflation. This year, this rate of pay is $19 an hour.

Interested in getting your business Living Wage Certified? Check out the criteria.