Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced last week that the minimum wage will remain unchanged next year because the consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation and a key economic indicator, was almost unchanged. By law, Oregon’s minimum wage is tied to the CPI.
The CPI rose .02 percent, according to annual economic numbers released by the federal government, but a .025 percent increase was needed to raise Oregon’s minimum wage by 5 cents.
Oregon’s minimum wage is $9.25, the second highest in the nation, after Washington state, and $2 higher than the federal minimum.
Despite the wage news, Democratic majorities in the Oregon Legislature are expected to propose minimum wage legislation in the upcoming short session in February 2016. If legislative efforts fall short, the issue could manifest itself as a 2016 ballot measure in November 2016.
If lawmakers fail to act, a new coalition of more than two dozen groups has stated it will push for a ballot measure to raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $13.50 statewide and restore the right of local communities to pass higher local minimum wages.
The Oregon Association of Nurseries opposes the effort. “Oregon already has a wage disadvantage against other nursery producing states,” Executive Director Jeff Stone said. “Although our growers pay their workers more than a minimum, raising the minimum wage in Oregon even further than already required would put more upward pressure on nursery wages, and would damage an important traded sector that contributes to Oregon’s economy. We need a higher federal minimum wage to create a level playing field between the states.”