Oregon's Minimum Wage Climbs to $7.95; Oregon Will Drop to 4th Place

Chuck Sheketoff

Oregon's minimum wage will increase from $7.80 to $7.95 per hour on January 1, 2008, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced today. The increase means an extra $312 a year and a total annual income of $16,536 for a family with one full-time minimum wage worker. The increase reflects the rise of the cost of living as defined by the August Consumer Price Index. The annual adjustment is mandated by Ballot Measure 25, approved by voters in 2002.

Coinciding with today's announcement by state officials that Oregon's minimum wage will increase by 15 cents next year (PDF), the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) issued an analysis showing that minimum wage cost-of-living adjustments have not led to the dire consequences predicted by the farm and restaurant industries that opposed pegging the minimum wage to inflation.

With the increase set to take effect on the first of the year, Oregon will drop from second to fourth place. California and Massachusetts will be tied for second place next year, when their minimum wage rates jump from $7.50 to $8.00. Oregon's neighbor to the north, Washington, will retain the nation's highest minimum wage on the first of the year, when its wage is expected to be adjusted for inflation from $7.93 to $8.07 per hour.

Read OCPP's news release Job Growth Not Dampened by Minimum Wage Raises, Study Shows

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Taking the OCPP's logic further, the state should double the minimum wage to $15.90 per hour, and there would be no negative economic impacts to job creation or prices.

    This flies in the face of Economics 101.

    What OCPP has proven (and I'm sure that other statisticians would put a different spin on the numbers) is that the relatively small increase in the minimum wage has not had a discernable effect on job creation or prices. But there's only so much money in the world - someone is losing out when wages rise. Perhaps it is just "excess profits" being taken from the greedy capitalists, but it has to come from somewhere.

  • Trollbot9000 (unverified)

    The increase means an extra $312 a year and a total annual income of $16,536 for a family with one full-time minimum wage worker.

    How many full-time minimum wage workers do you know? What types of professions might these individuals be engaged in? What are their skill levels and educational backgrounds?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Without throwing greed and Man's inhumanity to Man into the equation it would be difficult to comprehend how an employer could have an employee give an honest day's labor then send him home at the end of the day with less than a living wage - never mind just the minimum wage.

    Prior to the last measure on raising the minimum wage the Oregon Restaurant Association and others were propagating all kinds of Doomsday forecasts. A few months after the Measure passed and went into effect the Oregonian business section reported how well two major Oregon restaurant chains were doing and that they expected rosy futures. Here, in Central Oregon, we have had several local restaurant chains open up new dining facilities. It is probably a good bet the same can be said for many other areas in the state.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    I have yet to hear the cogent "conservative" argument why someone who works full time shouldn't earn a living wage. Why shouldn't they be able to afford health care? Is home ownership just something for the mythical middle class and the riche?

  • Adrian Rosolie (unverified)

    Trollbot, what's your point?

  • Trollbot9000 (unverified)

    What was my point? Since when is posing questions synonymous with making a point? But, perhaps you can shed some light here. Are you familiar with any of these "full-time minimum wage workers" referenced in the above post? I know some folks with some pretty crappy jobs, but even they earn more than minimum wage in a part-time capacity. It stands to reason that if a person is earning minimum wage, it represents the lowest starting point in a low skill position. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody has to start somewhere, but I have a hard time believing that there is a significant number of Oregonians working full-time at under $8 an hour. Feel free to correct me. Until then, I'm calling bullshit on Chuck.

    While I'm at it, allow me to ask another question or two. What is a living wage in your estimation? A rough dollar figure please and should that figure be the bare minimum compensation for anybody entering the workforce?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Even Mickey D's pays $8.30/hr and offers benefits.

    Anyone only capable of minimum wage, whatever the rate has placed themselves in that situation.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    I have a hard time believing that there is a significant number of Oregonians working full-time at under $8 an hour.

    I'll be sure to let my friends know that some anonymous GOP troll thinks that their minimum wage jobs are insignificant.

  • (Show?)

    While I’d appreciate people making a contribution in honor of Trollbot9000, according to an analysis by the Oregon Employment Department, in 2005 when the Oregon minimum wage was $7.25, about 10 percent of all non-farm payroll jobs in Oregon paid at or close to the minimum wage. Put another way, about 165,400 nonfarm payroll jobs in Oregon paid less than $7.50 in 2005.

    What’s a living wage and who don’t earn it? About one-third of Oregon’s working families with children under age 12 don’t earn enough to meet basic needs. To see the dollar figure based on family size and where in Oregon you live, follow the links on the left side of the page to the calculator.

  • Eric J. (unverified)

    I know what it's like to scour garbage cans for money at the end of the month for food. Most of these people who complain about Oregon's minimum wage have never been that dire to scour cans for returnables to pay for a small Kraft Dinner. I encourage those anti-minimum wage people to live at least 3 months out of garbage cans like I did growing up.

    It's not pretty.

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)

    You could make miniumum wage $100 per hour, and it wouldn't fix this state's sorry economy.

    Anyone who doesn't work for the government is lucky to make $10 per hour. And what you don't point out is that every time the minimum wage goes up, it hurts the people making just over minimum wage. They don't get an automatic raise. The only people who seem to get that are people who work for the government, who seem to think that the people making $10 per hour won't mind another tax increase to pay for programs that they make too much money to qualify for.

  • (Show?)

    Ask any college student who works full time in a diner or stocking Old Navy or Koffee King or pumping gas or cleaning the head at 7-11 etc, if they prefer the minimum wage staying still or going up a little once in a while. Must be nice deciding whether to buy a Tri-Met pass and Top Ramen, or going for the Mac & Chesse and risk a ticket sneaking onto the MAX so they have money for books. My daughter and many of her freinds are in this boat. Lots of others working to support ailing parents, or trying to make a start even tho they don't have the advantage of affluent families to help them. And of course many of hte people who produce the food you enjoy (often in dangerous conditions, like meat packing). I really hate that specious statement, "then why not just raise the min wage to a zillion dollars?" man how stupid does someone have to be to say that nonsense? Amazing. Trollbot & Scott J, does it hurt when you pull those 'facts' out of your butts?

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)


    You obviously don't get it. I worked some of the crappiest jobs ever while attending college, and earned minimum wage while doing so (less than minimum wage at one point, thanks to my UFCW dues). Those jobs helped motivate me to keep going to school. Minimum wage jobs aren't meant to be a permanent lifestyle; they're meant to teach job skills and habits to young people before choosing a career. The true problem in this state is that people have to settle for minimum wage jobs due to the lack of family wage jobs. You either work for minimum wage, or work for the government and make way more than most people in this state. That reality means that Oregon's socialistic programs, championed by people like Chuck Scheketoff who feed at the public trough, have actually created more inequality than they have eliminated. The truth hurts, doesn't it, Glen?

  • David Wright (unverified)

    East Bank Thom, I'll take a shot at it. I don't know if this is strictly speaking the "conservative" argument, but it's the pure capitalist argument anyhow.

    First off, from a capitalist's point of view, a "living wage" is utterly irrelevant to the discussion (which is a large part of the communication problem, here). The exchange of an hour of work for an hour of pay is strictly an economic transaction, and economics is amoral (note I didn't say immoral).

    From a purely capitalistic point of view, you have a seller (the worker) and a buyer (the employer), and as with any market-based transaction the price is determined by what the buyer is willing to pay and what the seller is willing to take. Thus, if the seller/worker is willing to take less than a "living wage" (however you define that), then economically that's what "should" happen. Likewise, if the buyer/employer is willing to pay more than a living wage, then that should happen.

    Now, to your implicit question of why an employer "should" be unwilling to pay what you consider a living wage -- again, from an economic standpoint, to the employer the worker is worth something less than the economic value of his labor. In other words, if an hour of an employee's work brings $10 in economic benefit to the employer, then the employee is worth something less than $10/hour. If the employer paid at or above the economic benefit, there would be no point in hiring the worker.

    So, again in theory, to determine what an employer "should" pay an employee, you'd have to determine what economic benefit the employee brings to the employer, and shoot for something less than that. Note that this is not strictly a measure of direct revenue that the employee brings in; an employee who reduces expenses also contributes an economic benefit, and in some situations an employee has a multiplier effect where he or she increases the productivity of other employees or other aspects of the business. Some employees are necessary to comply with regulations, and bring an economic benefit by helping the employer to avoid fines or prosecution, etc. There are a wide range of economic benefits that employees can provide, and all of these things should be considered by the employer.

    Now, when considering two different potential employees, the employer would need to evaluate the difference between what the employee would be willing to take in wages, and the economic benefit that employee would produce for the company. It may be that a lower-productivity employee would be better for the company, if that employee's wage demands were sufficiently low compared to the other employee.

    So the classic answer of why an employer might pay less than a desired wage to an employee, is simply that the employee doesn't offer enough net economic benefit to the employer to be worth paying more. Note, please, that I mean worth in the economic sense, again economics has nothing to do with a person's intrinsic value as a human being. Note also that the employee may not directly provide enough economic benefit, or someone else could provide a greater net economic benefit at that job by demanding less pay.

    Now, all of the above makes a splendid story, but I realize that reality often intrudes to spoil a perfectly good theory. Obviously not every employer makes decisions based on an impartial, rational, economic basis. But if your question is why should an employer act a certain way, there's your answer.

    And to the corollary of what should an employee do to earn a "living wage" (or any particular wage)? Find a way to become valuable enough to an employer to be able to demand that wage. Easier said than done, of course, but again that's the theory.

    Hope that was reasonably cogent, if rather longwinded. ;-)

  • Eric J (unverified)

    "Minimum wage jobs aren't meant to be a permanent lifestyle; they're meant to teach job skills and habits to young people before choosing a career".

    Unfortuneatly, there are some people who have to make it a 'permanent lifestyle' and make it a 'career' because they don't have any other skills, or they can't get skills because of their handicapped condition, or they are a convicted felon, or they do have the skills and an employer just 'feels' they 'are not right' for a job. Is it right for us to penalize them even further by denying them a chance to get a decent meal or , at least, a decent place to live?

    That's what a living wage is all about. But we have to settle for a high minimum wage until that living wage comes to fruition.

  • Scott Jorgensen (unverified)


    You miss the point as well.

    The great thing about this country is that anyone has the ability to improve their standing in life if they're willing to work for it. I could have settled for a minimum wage job, but chose not to and spent years working tirelessly so I could get an education and establish myself professionally to where I can now afford to support a family. There's nothing stopping anyone making minimum wage from going back to school so they can make more money. When I was going to a community college, I sat in classes with single moms who worked full-time, went to school full-time and still managed to take the kids to soccer practice every day. How can they do it and others can't? The answer is, because they wanted to. All of this ignores the original point here, which is that it's pointless to trumpet minimum wage workers making a whopping $300 more than last year when government employees automatically make 2 to 3 percent more every year, and that money comes out of the pockets of those struggling to get by on minimum wage, or just over minimum wage.

  • EcoTrendo (unverified)

    Scott Jorgensen writes: "The true problem in this state is that people have to settle for minimum wage jobs due to the lack of family wage jobs. You either work for minimum wage, or work for the government and make way more than most people in this state."

    Do a little research on our labor market, you'll find there's a lot of "family-wage" jobs in manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, software, telecom, professional services, real estate, health care, utilities... There aren't enough higher wage jobs, but that is true everywhere.

    Scott further writes: "it's pointless to trumpet minimum wage workers making a whopping $300 more than last year when government employees automatically make 2 to 3 percent more every year, and that money comes out of the pockets of those struggling to get by on minimum wage, or just over minimum wage."

    It's pointless, unless $300 means a lot to you. And actually, the "big" money is the difference between $8.00 and $5.25, which has been the minimum in most states for the past decade or so.

    Last I checked, government workers bargain for wage increases. Some times they get them, sometimes they don't, there's nothing automatic about it. They're just trying to get ahead--and you think it's laudable to get ahead, right?

    If taxes go up, low-income families pay more, sure. They also pay more if prices on anything go up. The increase in gas prices has hurt the poor a lot more than their tax bill.

  • 22 yr old family man (unverified)

    I make minimum curently, no one will give me or any one i know a raise, if it comes down to raise time from any startin position they simpoly cut your hours till you quit, or change your schedual so that its unlivable. i think most food workers, laborers, produce workers, cleaners, and proble over 1/2 the working communintys make minimum, wheni say working i mean the ones that do all the hard work, the cashiering(a dolar over maby_woohoo...still mim in my eyes)the packaging, the freezer buildign manufacturers, that are worked to the point of a dead dogs esteem, and the otherw where the managers insist we all drink on the job to keep up moral, or stop os from going bezerker..., so i was stupid as a kid and raised stupid, and have a kid of my own, and i want to better my self with a choice between inumane labor at a dolar over mim with a steady schedual so i dont loose my family, or minimum wage working random computer generated hours.....

  • 22 yr old ..... (unverified)

    obvisusle too, if people knew better, they would do better, off topic this goes form murderers to teachers, if you truely know somthing to be best then any one would act upon it, but people dotn know whats best, were all braiwnwashed consumers who are no more to the employers than a number, as subjects(called citizens) of the goverment we are told we are not responsable enough to make our own decisions in many ways i wont get in to. this is true to some degrees,(alcohol is legal for one...) but its our govermens job that they et payed for to work for the people, so if theres any feds geting payed out there.... weve been wating since ww1 tnx. ps: its obvious they dont care, be afraid be verry afraid.

  • still me wtf (unverified)

    o and mr eco trndo nazi dude, you say its ok for the federal workers who are payed to help the people, who i say should pay the most taxes and not accept any pay till they helped some one to proove there worthyness of there job, you say these govermetn workers should be able to maek more than the public ther esaposed to helpoig eveyr year and its ok, cuz gas companys adn grcery stores rob us allready anyways, that is disgusting, and you are verry wrong, that like saying, she was allrady begin raped so it was ok that i raped her a little too, you sick bastard.

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