This Week in the Mercury

Accountability--At What Price?


Accountability--At What Price?

City May Tie Cop Pay to Greater Accountability

Quote of the Week

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Raise for Oregon's Least-Paid Workers

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 11:39 AM

This was (almost) last years hourly wage increase.
  • This was (almost) last year's hourly wage increase.
For the first time in seven years, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry will not raise our state's minimum wage. The group announced today that because inflation has not risen in the past year, neither will Oregon's lowest-paid jobs.

Since voters passed Measure 25 back in 2002, Oregon's minimum wage has been linked to inflation: as inflation rises, so must the minimum wage. But this year, the Consumer Price Index (a measure of inflation) declined 1.48 percent, so our lowest paid workers (except, of course, legions of unpaid interns) will continue receiving $8.40 an hour. Last year, workers on the lowest rung got an extra 45 cents an hour cost-of-living increase. That's nine mini Tootsie Rolls an hour!

Think tank the Oregon Center for Public Policy notes that while increasing workers' take-home pay benefits the economy because we're able to buy more stuff, Oregon still has the second highest minimum wage in the country. We're 15 cents an hour behind Washington state's minimum wage but a whole $1.15/hour ahead of the national minimum.

$8.40 an hour still isn't enough to raise a family on, though, says the public policy group. Working full time, you would earn $17,472— that's $900 below the federal poverty line for a family of three.

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