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Duke increases its minimum wage to $15… and its tuition by 4.3%

(AP Photo)

Duke University announced its plans to increase its employees’ minimum hourly wages to $15 by 2019.

The private research college located in Durham, North Carolina will more than double the federal minimum wage within two years. Currently, hourly employees start at $13, which is still substantially higher than the $7.25 national minimum rate.

“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 told Duke Today.

These wage increases will affect more than 2,300 Duke employees. The university says they will phase in the raises over a two-year time span. Starting July 1, 2018, the minimum rate will bump to $14 an hour and, in the following year, reach $15.

Duke University is the largest private employer in the Bull City. The Pew Research Center ranked Durham, North Carolina sixth in the nation for the highest employee wages, despite the cost of living in the city ranking less than the national average.

According to the college’s latest financial report, wages and salaries make up 47 percent of the school’s expenses. Increasing the staff’s hourly wages will come at a cost to taxpayers and students. Tuition cost and government grants account for a combined 38 percent of the universities revenue.

(Screenshot via Duke 2015-16 Financial Report)

The same leaders that decided to raise hourly wages also decided to increase tuition cost to students. Duke’s Board of Trustees has agreed to raise tuition 4.3 percent for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. Duke University, which ranks 8th in the country by U.S. News Best Colleges, now costs $51,720 a year for tuition alone and $68,298 when including the school’s additional fees and housing. The national average cost of private colleges is $33,480 annually.

In 2012, Duke’s minimum wage was set at $10.91 per hour, which is still a generous wage that exceeds many hourly workers around the country today. Since 2012, Duke has increased its minimum wage three times.

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