Supporting a Living Wage in Durham

March 24, 2015

Durham Living Wage Project badge

I am thrilled to announce that DesignHammer is a Durham Living Wage Employer!

The Durham Living Wage Project is a grassroots effort to identify Durham businesses and nonprofits that pay a living wage, with an eye on raising the minimum wage. The accreditation is voluntary, and showcases employers of all sizes and sectors who provide their employees with a living wage.

The accreditation criteria defines a Durham living wage as either:

  • At least $12.33 per hour for employees without employer-provided health insurance.
  • At least $10.83 per hour for employees with employer-provided health insurance.


From the perspective of an employee, this translates into the ability to meet basic needs without public or private assistance.

The program serves as a stamp of community support, as well as a tool to put pressure on businesses not yet paying a living wage.

Many advocates of a living wage are quick to point out the value of businesses deciding to pay a living wage on their own, which the program honors and celebrates.

The project, organized by the Durham People’s Alliance, brings the national conversation of raising the minimum wage home to the workers and residents of Durham. A similar project launched in Asheville in 2008, and is currently the largest living wage accreditation program in the country.

Why pay a living wage?

For an employee, receiving a living wage can serve as a signal of value. Blended with the ability to make necessary purchases and save for future ones, feeling valued at work is empowering.

When employees feel valued, employers will see higher retention rates, greater employee satisfaction, and improved employee well-being.

For a community, a living wage benefits in both the short and long term: more money to pump back into the local economy on consumer purchases, as well as the opportunity to save for larger investments such as a car, house, or higher education.

For DesignHammer, the founding values of the Living Wage Project tie closely into our triple-bottom-line sustainable business strategy; we balance our profitability with our environmental and social impact. Because of this, we’re excited to be part of a program benefiting our employees while also improving the local economy in a sustainable way.

Join the project

The Durham Living Wage Project held its official launch party in early March, with 28 organizations forming the inaugural class. A certain excitement filled the air at the launch party as more than 150 people listened to remarks from Durham’s leaders, workers and community members.

The program continues to accredit new employers and grow, with a goal of accrediting 100 Durham business in 2015. At the time of publication of this post, the number has already grown to 35 employers and 757 employees.

If you are a Durham business that pays a living wage, we strongly encourage you to join us and become an accredited living wage employer — check out the requirements and apply online today.

Get involved

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