SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Starting January 1, 2013 minimum wage will be raised to $8.95, $0.15 more than the current rate. Minimum wage advocates say the hike is crucial to keep the lowest tier of workers from falling behind.
“Every little bit helps,” said Jake Babcock, an employee at Papa’s Pizza.
Babcock makes $8.90 now, $0.10 more than the current minimum wage; but with the state government increasing the minimum wage rate next year, he’ll be bringing in a little extra dough.
“It’s a good incentive to keep working hard,” Babcock said.
Babcock knows he makes more than most minimum wage workers across the country.
“I have family who lives in Idaho and their minimum wage there is much lower and especially if they make tips at their jobs, they aren’t required by the state to pay the full check if they make tips,” Babcock said.
Oregon has the second highest minimum wage rate in the country, behind Washington’s rate at $9.04.
State leaders say a high minimum wage is what Oregonians wanted. In 2002, voters approved a state initiative that tied Oregon’s minimum wage with the Consumer Price Index. If the Consumer Price Index increases, so does Oregon’s minimum wage; however, if the consumer price index goes down, the wage stays even.
“It wasn’t always this way but the people in their wisdom and I think it was wisdom decided a number of years ago, that this was the way we were going to do it in Oregon,” said state representative Phil Barnhart.
The hourly, minimum wage rate is calculated before each year with an equation. The existing minimum wage is multiplied by the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The product is rounded to the nearest nickel and added to the existing minimum wage. This process makes up what labor advocates say is a livable compensation.
“We just need to make sure they are able to buy the necessities of life and that they are able to do so from local Oregon businesses,” said Brad Avakian, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner.
“People working for the minimum wage will get paid a real wage for their work and as the economy improves. People move up and of course that will help other workers as well,” Avakian said.
Even if it’s just a step up of a few cents for some workers, they say it’s still a boost to their budget.