PORTLAND — In his State of the Union address in February, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9. On Tuesday, Oregon announced plans to exceed that, setting a minimum wage of $9.15.
It's part of a scheduled increase charted to the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index and takes effect in January. The change is expected to keep Oregon as the state with the nation's second-highest minimum wage, trailing only Washington state.
Oregon's minimum wage will be 15 cents higher in 2014 after also climbing 15 cents from 2012 to this year for approximately 98,000 workers.
Advocates for Oregon's increase and its tie to the price index praised the increase as sign the state supports its lowest-paid residents, while the association that represents employers of many minimum wage earners castigated it as a job-killer.
Restaurants "are going to be concerned over the cost of doing business in Oregon," said Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association spokesman John Hamilton.
Hamilton said the minimum-wage increase, coupled with requirements to provide health care and label menus, will create a difficult situation for small businesses, including restaurants.
"Raising wages, with other things going on including higher beef costs, will make it harder than it already is," Hamilton said.
The left-leaning Oregon Center for Public Policy was decidedly more sunny on the wage increase's prospects.
"We think it's very good that Oregon voters decided to (increase) the minimum wage so the lowest paid Oregonians don't get left behind," said OCPP spokesman Juan Carlos Ordonez.
The consumer price index looks at about 200 categories of products divided into eight groups, including food, housing, and transportation.