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Oregon's Minimum Wage Workers Get a Raise this Week

January 4, 2007

The minimum wage in Oregon increased 30 cents an hour this week, thanks to voter approved cost-of-living increases. A new report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy says the increase is a boost to low-income families and the state's economy.

Report author Michael Leachman says the cost-of-living increase is particularly important due to rising heath care, gas, and housing costs.

"Even with the annual adjustment for the cost-of-living, minimum wage workers who are trying to raise a family of three on their full-time work still live in poverty, but at least they won't fall further behind as their costs continue to go up."

Leachman says Oregon has added jobs more quickly than most states since voters increased the minimum wage. According to the report, since voters approved the annual cost-of-living increase four years ago, Oregon's job growth has jumped to 11th fastest in the nation.

"Despite the doomsday predictions from minimum wage opponents, Oregon's annual cost-of-living adjustments have gone hand-in-hand with solid job growth."

Some restaurant and agricultural groups had opposed the increase, saying it would cost jobs. But the report shows growth in those industries, which often employ minimum wage workers, has outpaced other industries. The minimum wage is now $7.80.

The report is online at www.ocpp.org.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR