Effective Jan. 1, 2009, Oregon’s minimum wage is going up by 45 cents, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced on Tuesday. Wages will jump from $7.95 per hour to $8.40 per hour, representing a 5.3 percent hike. The increase follows on the heels of a 15-cent increase that took effect Jan. 1, 2008. Measure 25, which voters approved in 2002, says that Oregon’s minimum wage must be adjusted every September, effective the following January, to keep pace with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for the Portland-Salem area. Agricultural leaders criticized the hike, saying the economic conditions in Portland and Salem are not the same as in the rural parts of the state. “In the current state of the economy, to be hitting small businesses with increases in any costs I think is a bad idea,” Oregon Association of Nurseries communications director Elizabeth Peters told the Capital Press. Avakian defended the increase, saying it keeps the economy strong by allowing low-income wage earners to afford goods and services, which are mostly purchased locally.
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