Minimum wage-earners in Oregon and Washington will get a 15-cent-an-hour raise on Jan. 1.
The two states passed initiatives in the late 1990s and early 2000s that link the minimum wage to inflation and the consumer price index.
In Oregon the wage goes up to $8.95 and hour. In Washington it’s a little bit higher, at $9.19 cents an hour.
It wasn’t long ago that Justin Burkes worked for minimum wage in a coffee shop, and he remembers the increases were important.
“For me that meant I didn’t have to have as much stress about eating well and paying rent,” Burkes said. “I could actually do both and I could actually focus on improving my career and the skills I had because I had less stress overall in my life.”
The pay increase amounts to about 1.7 percent this year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says most of that is a result of gas prices.
There are 18 states with minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage. It stands at $7.25 an hour and has not been changed since 2009.