Oregon’s minimum wage will remain $9.25 an hour in 2016, state officials announced Wednesday, marking the first time in five years the rate has not increased.

The rate is adjusted every year to keep up with rising prices. This year, an index that measures consumer costs flatlined as gasoline prices tumbled. That locked Oregon’s wage floor in at $9.25 for the second consecutive year.

For now, the wage remains $2 above the federal rate and the second-highest of any state, behind Washington.

Wednesday’s news could fuel the push to significantly raise the minimum wage, to as much as $15.00 an hour. Opponents contend such a a large hike could force some businesses to close. But supporters say the current rate isn’t enough to lift many workers out of poverty.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian advocated for raising the rate Wednesday. “The reality is that Oregon’s wage floor is not keeping pace with the rising cost of rent, child care and other expenses,” Avakian said in a written statement. “We should raise our state’s minimum wage so that people working full-time can afford to provide for their families.”

Roughly 6 percent Oregon’s workforce — around 100,000 people — earn minimum wage. State researchers found that a minimum-wage earner supporting a family of three would need to work 40 hours a week, all year long, just to meet the federal poverty threshold. The bar drops to 34 weeks if they are supporting only themselves.

More than one-third of the jobs that pay minimum wage or located in the leisure and hospitality sector, an umbrella that covers restaurants, bars and hotels. Retailers also have a significant share of minimum-wage jobs.

Oregon is one of 10 state that links the rate to inflation, as a result of a 2002 ballot measure. Since then, the rate has increased from $6.50 to $9.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009.

— Molly Young

myoung@oregonian.com
503-412-7056
@mollykyoung

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