RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Republicans who've infuriated liberal activists on taxes, redistricting and social issues have surprised critics by approving a $15-per-hour minimum wage for thousands of state employees.
The "living wage" took effect ahead of similar increases in deep-blue states including New York, California and Massachusetts. Extra pay went into the bank accounts of secretaries, hospital workers, security guards and housekeepers last month.
Lawmakers' motives for increasing wages appear to be both economic and political. One top budget writer at the legislature says it helps agencies retain veteran workers doing often thankless jobs. But it also wins favor with North Carolina's chief state employees' union in an election year for Republicans trying to keep General Assembly control.
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