More than a quarter-million jobs in Oregon will pay more starting July 1, when a scheduled minimum wage increase takes effect, according to data from the Oregon Employment Department. Though welcoming the wage increase, the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) said it falls short of what workers need to make ends meet.
“While we should celebrate the wage raise for Oregon’s lowest-paid workers, we should also recognize that the minimum wage doesn’t come close to providing economic security,” said OCPP policy fellow Audrey Mechling. “The Oregon legislature should pull every lever at its disposal to increase the take-home pay of workers.”
Minimum wage workers across Oregon will see their wages go up by 50 cents per hour. For a minimum wage employee working full time, the wage increase will mean about $1,040 more in annual income.
Oregon’s minimum wage varies by region, the result of legislation enacted in 2016 that set up a three-tier structure. On the first of July, the hourly minimum wage will rise to $12.50 in the Portland metro area, to $11 in non-urban counties, and to $11.25 in the rest of Oregon.
Statewide, this increase will affect over one in 10 jobs.
In some rural counties — Harney and Malhuer — the new rates will apply to more than one in six jobs, according to the Oregon Employment Department. While they remain subject to a lower minimum wage, rural counties will see the largest share of their workers taking home additional income due to the boost in pay.
“This wage increase will help the many families living in poverty despite the fact that they work,” Mechling said. “The extra wages will help them cover basic necessities like food and transportation.”
Still, the minimum wage remains inadequate when it comes to providing economic security, according to the Center. Families that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing fall in the federal government’s definition of being “cost burdened,” meaning that they may struggle to pay for other necessities such as food, transportation, and medical care. Even after the new wage increase, a one-bedroom apartment in most of the state will eat up more than 30 percent of the income of a full-time minimum wage worker.
Mechling called on the Oregon legislature to take additional steps to boost the take-home pay of workers, such as increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit and stamping out wage theft. “We have made progress in recent years, but Oregon must do more to ensure that every full-time worker is able to secure a safe and decent standard of living,” she said.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy (www.www.ocpp.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.