Duke will increase its minimum wage for employees and contract workers to $15 per hour by 2019.

The increase from the current $13 per hour minimum should affect more than 2,300 workers and will occur in intervals, according to a Duke Today release. The minimum wage for employees will increase to $14 on July 1, 2018 and will then rise to $15 per hour by July 1, 2019.

“Duke has a longstanding commitment to providing a total compensation package that recognizes and rewards the talented people who continue to make this institution a national leader,” President Vincent Price said in the release. “This starts with pay, which is why we are moving forward with these increases, but it also includes benefits such as health insurance, retirement and paid time away. Our goal always is for Duke to be the best place to work in North Carolina.”

The rise by 2019 will mark a 37 percent increase in Duke’s minimum wage since 2015. 

The University, the largest employer in Durham, raised its minimum wage from $10.91 to $12 per hour in 2015 and then up to $13 per hour in 2017. The state and federal minimum wage is $7.25.

The latest increase will cover all regular University and Health System staff that work at least 20 hours per week and 36 weeks per year. It will also apply to outside contractors that employ people who work on Duke's campus.

Quintin Young, one such contracted employee who works at Il Forno in West Union, said the increase would help him a lot.

“More money equals better living,” Young said. “In any circumstance, something like that is nice, especially if you feel like you’re worth it.”

Corin King—a manager and sous-chef at JB's Roast and Chops and the Skillet—also applauded the increase. King is a Durham resident and currently earns $14 per hour. He said the wage raise would be great for Duke's reputation as an employer.

"That would be at least 20 to 30 people here that would be making $15," he said in reference to employees at JB's and the Skillet. "It will really make the people of Durham flock to this area to get jobs because not too many people around here are hired for $15 per hour."

Still, King is concerned about the possible impact of the wage increases on staffing. He said the higher wages could force the University to cut some of its employees' hours, echoing a common argument of opponents of minimum wage increases.

But Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration, said he does not expect staffing cuts. He said the rollout of the raise increase will give “all of our units sufficient time to plan from a budgetary perspective.”