North Carolina’s Minimum Wage Increase Causes Massive Health Care Layoffs


North Carolina is one of 27 states that raised the minimum wage in 2023, from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. While this appears to benefit low-wage workers, it has also had unforeseen repercussions for the healthcare industry. Many healthcare providers have announced large layoffs and curtailed services, blaming higher labor expenses and financial challenges caused by the minimum wage increase.

This article will look at the impact of the minimum wage rise on the healthcare business, the issues that workers and patients confront, and potential solutions to the crisis. Effect of the Minimum Wage Increase on the

Healthcare Industry

Health care is one of North Carolina’s largest and fastest-growing industries, employing over 600,000 people and contributing more than $90 billion to the state’s economy. However, it is a labor-intensive and low-margin sector, with many employees earning at or below the minimum wage.

According to a North Carolina Health Care Association analysis, the minimum wage rise will result in an extra $1.7 billion in payroll expenditures by 2025. This would undermine many healthcare providers’ already low-profit margins, particularly those that rely on government financing such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Read more: Michigan’s Minimum Wage Increase Causes Massive Layoffs for Health Care Workers

To deal with rising labor expenses, several healthcare providers have implemented layoffs and service cutbacks. For example, UNC Health Care, the state’s largest healthcare organization, has announced intentions to cut 1,000 jobs and liquidate multiple clinics and sites around the state.

Similarly, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, another major healthcare provider, announced the elimination of 300 positions and the postponement of several elective operations and treatments. Other healthcare providers have also imposed hiring and salary freezes, benefit cutbacks, and furloughs.

Challenges for Health Care Workers and Patients

The layoffs and service reductions have posed considerable issues for both healthcare professionals and patients. The loss of employment and income has exacerbated financial uncertainty and stress among healthcare professionals.

Many of them are trying to pay their bills, purchase health insurance, and support their families. Some of them have also had to find new positions since the need for healthcare personnel has decreased owing to reduced services. Furthermore, the remaining healthcare personnel have experienced increasing workloads, longer hours, and decreased morale due to a lack of resources and people.

Also read: New Jersey’s Minimum Wage Increase Causes Massive Layoffs for Health Care Workers

Layoffs and service reductions have affected patients’ access and quality of care. Many have faced longer wait times, fewer appointments, and increased expenditures. Some of them have also experienced disruptions in their continuity of care because they have had to switch providers or travel additional distances to obtain treatment.

Furthermore, some of them have delayed or avoided receiving necessary care due to financial constraints or availability concerns. This might result in lower health outcomes, more complications, and greater death rates.

Possible Solutions to the Crisis

The crisis in the healthcare industry necessitates immediate and comprehensive remedies from all parties. Here are some possible solutions:

Increasing government support for health-care providers, particularly those serving low-income and vulnerable populations. This might help them overcome rising labor expenses while maintaining their services and workforce. For example, the state might broaden Medicaid eligibility, raise Medicaid reimbursement rates, and offer extra grants and subsidies to healthcare providers.

Providing financial help and support to healthcare professionals, particularly those who have lost their employment or income. This might help individuals overcome their financial difficulties and shift to other chances. For example, the state may increase unemployment compensation, offer job training and placement programs, and provide health insurance subsidies and tax breaks to healthcare workers.

Also read: Ohio’s Minimum Wage Increase Causes Massive Health Care Layoffs

Promoting innovation and efficiency in the healthcare business, particularly in technology, delivery, and management. This might help them cut expenses, enhance quality, and boost production. For example, the state should promote the use of telemedicine, electronic health records, and value-based care models, as well as the collaboration and consolidation of medical providers.


North Carolina’s minimum wage hike to $8.50 creates unforeseen hurdles for the healthcare business, resulting in layoffs and service cuts. Major providers, such as UNC Health Care and WakeMed, are decreasing staff and services as labor costs rise.

Healthcare workers confront financial strain, employment uncertainty, and increasing workloads. Patients face lengthier wait times and limited access to care, affecting health outcomes. Increased government assistance, financial help for workers, and pushing innovation for cost reduction and efficiency are all potential solutions.

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