The state’s minimum wage is set to increase by $0.50 today, the fourth of eight annual increases planned until 2023. It’s expected to affect about a quarter of a million people across Oregon.
Depending on where you live, the new wage might be slightly different. For Benton County and other “standard counties”, the minimum wage is rising to $11.25 an hour. In the Portland metro area, it will be slightly higher at $12.50 to reflect the higher cost of living, and rural counties will raise wages to $11.00 an hour.
Some say this growth in wages is still falling behind standards of living. A study published by the Oregon Center for Public Policy shows that all three wage tiers in Oregon still fall short compared to similar areas nationwide. In counties comparable to “standard” counties like Benton, the average hourly minimum wage required to afford a one-bedroom apartment is $15.44, compared to $11.25 right now.
The starkest contrast was in metropolitan areas, which on average require someone to make $23.73 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment, compared to Portland’s new $12.50 hourly minimum.
Employees making minimum wage are advised to keep their employers accountable. If your employer is not complying with the new minimum wage, a complaint can be filed at the Bureau of Labor and Industry. BOLI officials said written notices usually bring employers into compliance, but serially offending employers can be pursued by civil litigation seeking back pay and penalty pay to the employee.
By Ian MacRonald