- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - More than 140,000 Oregon workers will get a pay raise when the minimum wage goes up the first of the year, the state Bureau of Labor and Industries said Wednesday.

It’s a 15-cent an hour hike, from $9.10 to $9.25. It will affect 141,822 people, roughly 8 percent of Oregon’s workforce.

The increase means Oregon will have the nation’s second-highest minimum wage behind Washington. Oregon’s minimum wage is re-calculated each year as the result of a state law passed by voters in 2002 that ties the minimum wage to inflation.

The law generally applies to all workers, including those in the restaurant industry.

For minimum wage earners working 30 hours a week, the raise translates into $234 more in 2015.

“It insures our lowest earners never fall behind,” said Commissioner Brad Avakian. “And the way we do it is very steady, very predictable for Oregon businesses, so they can plan for next year’s costs.”

Avakian said one common misconception about minimum wage earners is that they are mostly teenagers working for pocket change. In fact, he said, most of these workers are adults and about two-thirds are women, and many of them have children to support.

The increase is expected to generate more than $25 million in new consumer spending next year, Avakian said.

“The money will get pumped back into the local economy,” he said. “It will be spent on food, gasoline, school supplies and local businesses.”

Critics say though welcomed, the increase is not enough to lift families out of poverty, or to provide economic security.

“Oregon’s minimum wage is below what it takes for a family with children to meet their basic needs,” said Janet Bauer, a policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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