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New Year Brings Increase to Oregon Minimum Wage

January 2, 2008

Silverton, OR – Oregon's lowest-paid workers are getting a raise this week, but a new report shows it won't help many of them escape poverty.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy's report shows that the 15-cent minimum wage increase, from $7.80 to $7.95 per hour, will help workers keep up with inflation. But report author Michael Leachman says the increase means a full-time, minimum-wage worker will make just over $16,500 per year.

"This is not a ticket out of poverty. Most families who are depending only on that wage are still not earning enough to meet their most basic needs, even if they're working full time, year-round."

Leachman says although it is small, the minimum wage boost is very important to help low-wage families keep up with the cost of living.

"If we didn't adjust every year for the cost of living, then the minimum wage would lose more and more value and push families deeper and deeper into poverty. But even with the adjustment for inflation, most families who are depending only on a minimum wage worker are going to be in poverty."

Critics of the increase predict that it will hamper job growth, but Leachman says Oregon's employment growth figures have been among the strongest in the country in the recent past. The U.S. Department of Labor now ranks Oregon as having the fourth-highest minimum wage in the nation.

The full report is available online at www.ocpp.org.

Dondrea Warner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR