Gap between cost of living in Asheville and income – The Blue Banner


Roy Inkidar

Sports editor

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Photographed by Roy Inkidar
Thomas Toler, a second year student at UNC Asheville, expresses concern about Asheville’s economic situation.

The imbalance between North Carolina’s minimum wage and the cost of living sparks an outcry from the community as they struggle to meet their needs during a time of economic downturn. Students at UNC Asheville have expressed their views on this conflict and the efforts required to keep their lives financially stable.

UNCA Sophomore Mason Black has said that for students like him, living comfortably on Asheville’s minimum wage is proving difficult.

“I’m from Old Fort, which is just down the mountain. It’s in McDowell County, which has one of the lowest living costs in the state and $ 7.25 isn’t enough. I think people who expect that to be enough in Asheville is ridiculous, ”Black said.

Black said it was difficult for students to pay their tuition and living expenses, given that they mostly work for a salary close to the minimum wage.

“I think students are generally expected to work for a salary closer to the minimum wage than others and it is neither feasible nor viable to try to pay tuition and living expenses at this age level,” did he declare.

Aliyah Aguilar, a UNCA junior who works on campus, said balancing work and schoolwork to support herself comes with a lot of stress.

“It’s pretty fucked up. Right now the student union or at least the students on campus are trying to reach administration because the cost of living is going up and we are not even getting enough money to take care of ourselves. . It’s a never-ending cycle of work, work, work, trying to have money to live on and pay for school expenses on top of that. We can’t even finish the education part, ”Aguilar said.

Aguilar said the homeless situation in Asheville is worse than that of his hometown.

“Ultimately, this will lead to more poverty. People are going to live on the streets. I am from Charlotte and believe there are more homeless people I have seen in Asheville compared to Charlotte. Charlotte is a bigger city and I feel like cities should be more expensive than living in places like Asheville, ”Aguilar said.

A junior at UNCA, Cameron Sharp, said a balance between minimum wage and the average cost of living is required.

“I think the minimum wage should always be kept in constant balance with the average cost of living. So to keep it in a state where anyone who works should be able to afford a good life rather than having to make overwhelming compromises just to survive and try to climb the ranks that are unevenly balanced against them, ”said Sharp.

Thomas Toler, a sophomore student at UNCA, said these economic disparities create struggles in society and for students.

“I think it is important that the minimum wage stays with inflation, but unfortunately nowadays that is not the case because it has become such a political issue that it has become divided. It is all the more difficult as the cost of living increases and the cost of basic necessities begins to rise. This can be extremely difficult, especially for someone who has to balance school and work. They’ll most likely get part-time jobs in places that pay close to minimum wage, ”Toler said.

On the other hand, UNCA assistant professor of economics Sam Kim said that many companies in Asheville pay more than the minimum wage, which means a large number of workers are working for more than $ 7.25 per hour.

“Few people work for minimum wage. I hired a research assistant and am paying more than minimum wage, so minimum wage may not be a good indicator for low income people. If you look at McDonald’s employees, they pay $ 13 to $ 14 an hour. Target pays $ 15 an hour, which is double the minimum wage. When you say that the minimum wage is not going up but inflation is going up, I am not sure. I need the average income figures for the Asheville resident. Few people pay or receive minimum wage, ”Kim said.

Additionally, Kim said the location of Asheville in North Carolina affects the city’s higher inflation rate.

“Why does Asheville have a higher rate of inflation than other cities in North Carolina and others nationwide?” First of all, we have to look at this geographically. Asheville is surrounded by mountains, which means that for delivering food, the cost of transactions is higher than in other places. In Atlanta, for example, it’s pretty flat and accessible to other places like major airports, so transactions and delivery costs are cheaper. However, here in Asheville it’s very expensive unless you grow something in Asheville and consume it locally, ”Kim said.

According to Kim, the relationship between supply and demand is unevenly balanced in Asheville compared to other cities due to geographic considerations.

“Rents and housing prices in Asheville are extremely expensive. Our housing market cannot grow because of the mountains, so supply does not increase at the same rate as demand. Take Houston for example. A lot of people are moving to Houston. House prices don’t go up because when there is a lot of demand the construction company builds houses, ”Kim said.

Kim also said Asheville is an important attraction for retirees and tourists.

“Think about it, what kind of people are moving to Asheville? Asheville is one of the best places to retire. Many retirees choose to come to Asheville, which means they already know house prices are high, but they still choose to come here because they have the money. A lot of people here have a lot of buying power, they have the power to buy. Demand is therefore growing faster than supply. And we don’t produce much locally compared to other cities. We are also famous for tourism. Tourists come here to spend money and therefore increase inflation, ”Kim said.

Finally, Kim said that at present, the economic situation is difficult to judge due to the labor shortage and its effects on students.

“Right now we have a labor shortage problem, which means it’s hard to hire workers even at $ 13 an hour, which is almost double the minimum wage. So at the moment I don’t know how this is applicable. For students, they also have to take care of student loans, and the problem isn’t that all the big schools give you a good job. Today, student loans in the United States are more common than credit card loans. There is no silver bullet to this, the government may have to do something even if it helps. However, individually we can make more financially responsible decisions ”, Kim said.

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