Minimum wage of $13.50 would be ‘self-sufficient’

2 groups want to raise the minimum wage, but to different levels

Raise the Wage Coalition wants to set a $13.50 minimum wage for the state, July 22, 2015 (KOIN)
Raise the Wage Coalition wants to set a $13.50 minimum wage for the state, July 22, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The current minimum wage in the state of Oregon is $9.25. But a group pushing for a higher minimum wage said a rate of $13.50 is closer to self-sufficiency.

“We are united by the common belief that Oregonians who work hard and play by the rules should be able to feed their families and pay their bills,” said Andrea Miller, the executive director of CAUSA.

A wage of $13.50 per hour would help people support their families. That wage would help people be self-sufficient in most Oregon counties, but not the most populated ones.

Small business owners like Deborah Field support the wage hike.

“If our employees are our most important asset, then they deserve the most attention and to be taken care of,” Field told KOIN 6 News.

Here’s the math for a 40-hour week at these rates:

—  Current minimum wage: $9.25/hour = $370 a week, a total of $19,240 per year.

—  Proposed minimum wage: $13.50/hour = $540 a week, a total of $28,080 per year.

The report states a family of 4 with one full-time and one part-time worker in rural areas like Harney and Lake counties need about $13 an hour to be self-sufficient.

But in spots like Yamhill County — closer to urban populations — the self-sufficiency rate is about $16 an hour. In the tri-county area, it’s more than $21 an hour.

That’s why the coalition is working to restore the ability of cities to set a local minimum wage that is higher than the statewide floor.

“When you have more people making more money, there is more money circulating,” Field said. “To me, it’s kind of like Economics 101.”

Organizers of the Raise the Wage Coalition say their primary goal is to convince state lawmakers to adopt their plan, but they’ll begin collecting signatures for a ballot measure in case lawmakers don’t sign off.

Meanwhile, a separate group that’s already collecting signatures for a $15 statewide minimum wage says it will continue fighting for the higher rate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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