Novant Health announced this week it is raising the lowest hourly pay for North Carolina workers to $11 per hour, up from the state minimum of $7.25. The change will benefit about 2,000 employees in the state.
Headquartered in Winston-Salem, Novant employs more than 1,500 physicians and more than 25,000 employees in 470 locations, including 14 hospitals in four states, including four in Mecklenburg County. For about 350 employees in Virginia, pay will increase to $14 per hour.
In a statement, Novant officials said they realized the state’s minimum wage “was not a living wage” and wanted to give their employees “a wage on which they could live in their local community.…It’s an investment in our people.”
Janet Smith-Hill, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “We are committed to attracting and retaining highly qualified team members, and offering a living wage is another way to live up to that commitment.”
The increase, which will total $1.2 million, largely affects those in entry-level positions, including technical assistants, certified nursing assistants, supply chain and materials management and some clerical positions.
At Carolinas HealthCare System – Novant’s competitor in Charlotte – the current minimum wage is $10, and the plan is to increase to $11.50 at mid-year. “We’ve been advancing our salary base for a number of years and have had periodic increases,” spokeswoman Amy Murphy said.
The hospitals join a number of large banks that have announced similar increases in recent months.
In January, Wells Fargo announced it was raising the lowest hourly pay for U.S. workers to $13.50, up from $12. The San Francisco-based bank employs about 23,500 in the Charlotte region. The Wells Fargo change largely benefits workers in entry-level roles such as tellers and customer services representatives.
In December, Bank of America disclosed plans by the Charlotte-based company to raise wages for its lowest-paid workers to $15 an hour, up from $13.50, effective this year.
The pay increases come amid calls by groups across the country to raise minimum wages to $15 an hour, a push that has prompted demonstrations in Charlotte and elsewhere in recent years. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, a level it’s been at since since 2009. North Carolina’s minimum wage is also $7.25.
Staff writer Deon Roberts contributed.