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The extra pay will increase incomes for more than 30,000 local workers at UNC Health Care Systems and provide some boost for the region’s economy, giving families more money to spend as the holidays approach.

But the raises come as the federal health overhaul puts more pressure on the medical industry to reduce expenses, and could offer more ammunition to critics who blame health providers for soaring costs.

On Monday, the board of the UNC Health Care System approved bonuses and raises for its 8,000 workers in Chapel Hill. The amounts vary by position, but will total about $22.4 million. The raises will average about 3 percent.

“I believe it is a priority to reward our employees for continually providing the best care and service to our patients,” said Bill Roper, CEO of the UNC Health system. “We must remain competitive with the market.”

WakeMed, the Duke University Health System and Rex Healthcare also approved raises recently, increasing the competition for nurses and other employees.

WakeMed, which employs more than 7,000 people across Wake County, gave 3 percent raises to clinical staff in July. Managers and nonclinical staff will get similar increases next month.

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