Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced today that the state's minimum wage will remain $8.40 next year because of a decline of a decline in the Consumer Price Index.
The move marks the first time Oregon's minimum wage missed its annual increase since Oregon voters enacted Ballot Measure 25 in 2002.
Oregon minimum wage law, codified in ORS 653.025, requires an annual adjustment based on inflation as measured by the CPI, which Avakian says dropped 1.48 percent between August 2008 and August 2009.
The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries is charged with adjusting the minimum wage for inflation every September, rounded to the nearest five cents. The law specifically ties Oregon's minimum wage to increases in the CPI, leaving no option for a reduced wage when the CPI declines.
Oregon is one of ten states, with Washington, Vermont, Ohio, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Florida, Colorado, and Arizona, that annually adjusts the minimum wage based on inflation and the CPI.
A combination of factors, including local economic trends, the structure of state laws and the floor of the federal minimum wage, suggest that few, if any, decreased minimum wage rates will take effect next year.
The CPI, which is published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a measure of the average change in prices over time for a fixed "market basket" of goods and services, such as food, shelter, medical care, transportation fares and other goods and services people purchase for day-to-day living.