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State's minimum wage inches up

Oregon’s minimum wage will inch up by another 15 cents to $9.25 an hour as of the start of the new year.

The modest increase arrives on the eve of a legislative session expected to include debate on whether to raise the state’s minimum wage high enough so working families can make ends meet.

The Jan. 1 increase is the result of a ballot measure enacted by voters in 2002 tying the minimum wage to inflation. The change means an extra $26 per month for a full-time worker earning the minimum.

“Though the 15 cent increase will help, the minimum wage remains too low for working families to make ends meet,” said Tyler Mac Innis, a policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “A parent who works full-time should be able to cover his or her family’s basic needs.”

The center’s research shows that seven out of 10 Oregon families living in poverty in 2013 had at least one parent who worked.

One in five families with children had at least one parent who worked full-time.

“Too many working families are poor, even with the poverty line set too low,” said Mac Innis. “There are plenty of families above the poverty line also struggling to make ends meet.”

The center expects the Oregon Legislature to consider raising the minimum wage during the 2015 session. Already, at least 10 lawmakers have come out in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

According to Mac Innis, despite the claims of critics, increases to the minimum wage over the years have had little or no impact on job growth.”

The minimum wage has been well studied by economists, and most have found little or no effect on job growth,” Mac Innis said. “The facts speak loudly on this point.”

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