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Oregon's Minimum Wage Takes a Hike

September 21, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - One dime has probably never been quite so important to so many Oregonians. As the state minimum wage goes up ten cents an hour starting January 1, from $8.40 to $8.50, paychecks will be a little bigger for an estimated 121,000 Oregon workers.

It amounts to less than a dollar a day, but Steve Robinson, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy, says it's still a positive step for working families, who will help the economy as they are able to spend a bit more.

"If you're trying to decide: 'Are you going to make the rent payment or buy some gas for the car?' If your economic situation is such that you have to make those kinds of choices, then having a little bit of extra money is going to make those choices a little easier."

Robinson points out that Oregon is one of only ten states that re-evaluates its minimum wage annually to adjust for inflation, and voters are to thank for that.

"The people of Oregon have made a statement that they think that the minimum wage should track with inflation, and I think that says something about Oregonians' concern for folks that are in this situation."

The Oregon minimum wage is only considered a living wage for a single person with no dependents. Couples and anyone with children require almost $13 an hour, or more. The increase coincides with a six-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike that also goes into effect in January.

Oregon's minimum wage is second only to neighboring Washington's, which is $8.55 an hour. Washington workers find out at the end of this month whether their minimum wage will change.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR