Minimum wage to hold steady in 2016

State avoids automatic cost-of-living increase.

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Oregon’s minimum wage will avoid an automatic cost-of-living increase in 2016.

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian says that despite higher costs of housing and child care, the overall Consumer Price Index for Portland rose only two-10ths of 1 percent for the year ending in August.

“That is not enough to trigger an increase,” says Charlie Burr, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

Oregon trails only Washington for highest-minimum wage in the country.

While Avakian said conditions weren’t right to trigger an automatic increase, he did advocate for a hike to the wage floor.

“The reality is that Oregon’s wage floor is not keeping pace with the rising cost of rent, child care and other expenses,” Avakian said in a written statement. “We should raise our state’s minimum wage so that people working full-time can afford to provide for their families.”

Roughly 6 percent Oregon’s workforce — around 100,000 people — earn minimum wage. State researchers found that a minimum-wage earner supporting a family of three would need to work 40 hours a week, all year long, just to meet the federal poverty threshold. The bar drops to 34 weeks if they are supporting only themselves.

More than one-third of the jobs that pay minimum wage or located in the leisure and hospitality sector, an umbrella that covers restaurants, bars and hotels. Retailers also have a significant share of minimum-wage jobs.


Restaurant owners have remained steadfast in fighting any increase.

For the state’s restaurant and lodging industry, the news offers some stability at a time when there are other increases in labor costs in the offing, said Jason Brandt, CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.

“Any increase in labor cost has to be covered by a reduction of labor or reduction of service or increase in costs to consumers, or a combination of these,” Brandt said. “What we’ve seen in Seattle is not only have there been job losses, there have been restaurants that have closed.”

(SOURCE: Register-Guard)

It is unclear what the market conditions say about Oregon’s economic health.

The wage news comes as other economic indicators in Oregon continue to be mixed: Jobs growth is near a 20-year high, but the unemployment rate also rose from 5.9 percent to 6.1 percent last month as more people were drawn back into the hunt for jobs.

Moreover, much of the jobs growth is happening in the hospitality and leisure industries, where more than 63,000 workers earn minimum wage, according to Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries data.

(SOURCE: Statesman Journal)

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