OREGON, USA (KGW) — On July 1, 2022, Oregon’s minimum wage increased for the seventh and final time based on set increases decided by state lawmakers in 2016. That year, the state’s minimum wage was set at $9.25 per hour and was adjusted annually to account for inflation.
Since then, the minimum wage has increased every year, though by how much depends on where you live.
Most of Oregon saw a 75-cent raise. Minimum wages within the Portland Urban Growth Boundary remain the highest at $14.75. Near Oregon’s other more populated areas, it’s up to $13.50. Rural areas have an increase to $12.50.
“As of the last time we increase the minimum wage in the summer of 2021, about 5% of all jobs in Oregon were paid the minimum wage,” said Gail Krumenauer, state employment economist with the Oregon Employment Department.
Though most jobs in the state do pay more, many entry-level positions are offering new workers a good bit more to start.
“We’ve had more job openings than unemployed workers since the summer of 2021. So in that type of low-unemployment and high-competition environment for workers, we have seen that a lot of jobs are starting above minimum wage,” Krumenauer explained.
“It’s a high demand for people to work, and we are willing to pay the people what they deserve,” said Vanessa Martinez, who works for Hospitality Staffing Solutions’ Portland branch.
The company staffs local hotels with housekeeping services. In the Portland area, they’re recruiting workers with a starting pay of $19.50 an hour.
“Even though it is a job that is typically paid minimum wage, it goes down to, how many people are wanting to be employed in housekeeping? I think that is our drive to keep our pay rates at a rate where people are going to be like, I want to do that.”
In 2023, the state’s incremental increases will end and minimum wage in Oregon will go back to being set according to the inflation rate.
“The idea was that the minimum wage would maintain its purchasing power over the years so that it would keep up with the cost of living for minimum wage workers,” Krumenauer said.
She explained average hourly earnings for Oregonians have not been keeping up with inflation for the past several months.
“On average, we are seeing that workers paychecks are not going as far.”
Despite the dollar not going as far, Oregon’s three minimum wages are still among the top in the nation. The Employment Department reports the highest minimum wage in 2022 will be in the District of Columbia ($16.10), followed by California ($15.00), Washington ($14.49) and Massachusetts ($14.25).