Ore. minimum wage to hit $8.80 in 2012

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Oregon's minimum-wage workers will get an extra 30 cents an hour next year.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced in September that the minimum wage will rise to $8.80 per hour on Jan. 1.

Oregon voters approved a ballot measure in 2002 that requires a minimum wage adjustment each year based on changes in inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. Avakian says the index rose 3.77 percent over the past year.

Oregon and Washington are among 10 states that adjust the minimum wage based on the index

Oregon's current minimum wage is the nation's second highest and trailing only Washington state's $8.67 per hour wage, according to Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

Washington most probably will retain the top spot next year because it also pegs its minimum wage to inflation, he said in a posting on the center's website.

Washington was to announce its 2012 minimum wage on Sept. 30, after this edition of Business Monthy goes to press.

Oregon's increase means an extra $624 a year for a family with one full-time minimum wage worker.

"The minimum wage increase will be good for workers and Oregon's economy," he said. "It will help the lowest-paid workers make ends meet, and it will help the economy when the workers spend those extra dollars in local businesses."

Although Oregon's minimum wage is second-highest in the nation, he added, it is not enough to prevent poverty among some working families.

At $8.80 an hour, a full-time minimum wage worker will earn $18,304, still below the 2011 federal poverty level guideline for a family of three, currently set at $18,530.

Such families could fall further behind in early in 2012, when the federal government likely will raise the poverty guideline, according to Sheketoff.

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