Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state’s minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.
The state House of Representatives on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1532, which now heads to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it into law.
“I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures,” Brown said.
The move makes Oregon a trailblazer in the broader debate about minimum wage unfolding nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.
Oregon now joins 14 other states that have raised their rates over the past two years. Another dozen or so are considering taking up the issue this year, either through legislative action or ballot initiative, as issues of wage inequality and middle-class incomes have climbed to the forefront of presidential campaigns by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
The bill was crafted as a compromise between what unions, businesses and farmers want and as an attempt to thwart more aggressive proposals that could go before voters in November. Those two proposals call for a statewide minimum of $13.50 or $15, and would be phased in over half the time. Labor unions have not yet indicated whether they’ll follow through with ballot initiatives.
Oregon follows moves in states such as Massachusetts, California and Vermont that recently boosted statewide minimums above $10. That stands in stark contrast to more conservative states such as Idaho, which has blocked previous efforts to raise its minimum beyond the federal level, and Arizona, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would block state funding to municipalities that set a local minimum wage.
Oregon’s new plan imposes a series of gradual increases over six years. By 2022, the state’s current $9.25 an hour minimum – already one of the highest in the nation – would climb to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities.
Those minimums dethrone Massachusetts – where the statewide rate will climb to $11 an hour next year – from the top spot, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that tracks wage laws across the nation.
While there are varying approaches to raising the minimum wage, the three-tiered regional system is uniquely Oregon’s.
States have targeted wage hikes for only government employees or certain industries, as seen recently in New York for fast-food workers, while others allow local jurisdictions to set their own rates above the state threshold, prompting recent hikes in cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles.
Oregon, however, has made the unprecedented move to be the first state without a one-size-fits-all statewide minimum.
“Oregon has always been at the forefront of new ideas in the country. We were the first to actually have a minimum wage,” said Rep. Paul Holvey, a Democrat from Eugene. “Trust me, we’re not solving all the problems, but we are making a substantial dent in it by pushing up from the bottom some wage equality … from the huge disparity we have in incomes.”
The state is deeply divided between west and east by economic, cultural and political differences. The goal of the tiered approach is to balance the needs of the more urban west, where living costs have soared in rapidly growing Portland. and struggling farming communities in the east.
Division over the minimum wage – currently at $7.25 in federal law – is also often split along party lines and pits low-wage workers against business groups, as has been seen in Oregon this year. Republicans, the minority party in the Oregon Statehouse, have opposed the increase.
The President of Oregon Farm Bureau said Thursday’s vote shows Democrats don’t value family agriculture.
“This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries. Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business,” said Barry Bushue, President of Oregon Farm Bureau.
David Cooper, an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, said wage increases have never lead to widespread damaging effects, but he also expressed hesitation about Oregon’s regional approach.
“I think any time you create these sorts of somewhat arbitrary geographic districts, that’s when you can create opportunities for some sort of economic disruption,” he said. “I would prefer the whole state got to the same wage level but at a slower pace by region so that everyone is held to the same standard.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Justin W says
The problem with minimum wage increases is they don’t solve any problem but they create new ones. Every time the minimum wage has risen it has done so in the hopes that it will elevate lower paid workers living standards. What isn’t recognized is that the increased living standard is short lived. Prices on goods and services rise to reflect the higher labor costs. In a few weeks the workers are right back where the started.
Those on fixed incomes or who have saved money are hurt from the minimum wage hikes. As the price of goods and services rise their dollar buys less than it used to.
The solution for a higher standard of living is for workers to gain skills and then move into jobs that pay higher wages. I’ve had several minimum wage jobs in my past. As I gained experience I moved into a job that rewarded that experience with higher pay. Some people may enjoy working their entire career in an entry level job. If so, they should not complain because they can’t live a lavish lifestyle on an entry-level wage. I’m constantly amazed that people seem to have problems understanding this concept.
Justin W – I agree with you 100%!!! You couldn’t have said it more clearly!! It’s totally amazing that people do not think things through to the obvious conclusion!!
…..and why do I have this spooky icon beside my name?? It does NOT reflect who I am!!
Steve s. says
Most politicians have never owned a small business. Where we might hire 10 young workers we will now only hire eight. Pushing the minimum rate will be passed on to the consumer as will as stimulating mechanized answers. The fallacy of raising prices only hurts the older and forces small competive companies out of business. The answer is the do Good politicians should have to work for a small competitive company and watch it go out if business.
Justin , I have been saying the same thing for years. If you really want people to live better , you would have to freeze prices as well, so this does not happen. But than you have business taking the full blunt of the wage hike. They have to make a profit, that is why they are in business. They need to raise their family just as you do. The low paying jobs are there as a temp. job until you finish your schooling and move on to a better paying job. Why doesn’t the government give our men and women in uniform a pay increase? When someone working in McDonalds and likewise business make more than someone defending our country something is wrong. When someone who has not even finish high school makes the same as a person who went to collage again I have a problem with that.
The ONLY ones that get a pay increase when the minimum wage is increased is the government.
But how do you do that when higher-wage jobs are moving overseas and/or being automated? The jobs that are growing are low-wage positions that can’t be automated.
The reason that higher wage jobs are moving overseas is because they cost to much in the US. Unions have driven entry level to journey man wages beyond a level that lets the employer stay competitive. Higher pay means less jobs in the long run. The only one that comes out ahead is the tax collector who continues to ask for more and more of your money before you see it. It Oregon had be smart, they could have raised minimum wage earners wages by simply deleting the requirement of taking taxes from them before they see their paycheck.
It does not matter what us folks tasked with supporting all the non-workers in America an paying for all the Progressive Professional Politicians and their benefits until death. Until we go back to the basics and eliminate these Socialist or Communistic programs, nothing will improve. So they raise the minimum to $15.00 per hour. If you are in a job that pays only minimum wage, I feel sorry for you because you will never amount to anything. BTW there is no retirement system for minimum wages people. Now the Government will want to increase the entitlement programs to match with the increases of the minimum wage. Eliminate the Socialist Democrats from all offices nationwide.
Jim Fox says
You said it. The stupid liberals don’t realize that it’s like a domino effect.
Agreed. Me too. Explain it to Seniors on fixed social security how they will make their “entitlement” stretch to cover increased prices.
Common sense, people, if business has to pay more for wages, insurances, taxes, etc., then they have to charge more to cover it all. Nothing gained. Only pain.
Frank W Brown says
Yep, Oregon will fall when all of “other peoples money” runs out as has been PROVEN over and over in history! Oregon has become a libTARD stronghold like krazy kalifornia, so oregon is FINE with this…
A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots! AND TYRANTS AND BUREAUCRAPS!!!
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the media panders to your openly socialist leader while the IRS targets groups with dissenting views— you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government ‘cracks down’ on legal gun sales to law abiding citizens while secretly supplying illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels— you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your local government (Chicago) outlawed gun ownership for ‘the safety of its citizens’ and now boasts the worst murder rate in the country — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
What a country!
How about we give God a reason to continue blessing America?
This was borrowed from another blog, authors unknown, please spread it far and wide!
Excellent!!!! Thank you for sharing!!
You Guys have it right !!!!!!!!!!!! We no longer live in the USA !!
To many IDIOTS and LIBs are in office!!!!!
Jim Fox says
And I thought CA was the stupid state.
Jim Fox says
Love it. Unfortunately, it’s true though. We need Trump. And I thought CA was a wacky state.
Augie Snyder says
How about a raise for seniors on social security. We haven’t had a raise for three years, and when we do get one it’s like 1-1/2%. Hardly keeping up with inflation, medical costs, etc. Many seniors live solely on social security, and the average recipient gets about $1350/month. That’s about 8.43/hr. So if people think they can’t live on them minimum wage, just think how seniors feel.
Michael a says
Amen to that bout us seniors.
The government claims there’s no inflation, hence no raise. Guess when you live in the Bubble, D.C., you’re rich enough to not notice that the costs of foods, goods, and services are going up at an unhealthy pace.
I’d rather live any place rather than the D.C. bubble. It’s a poisoned place to be.
When thousands of jobs leave the state’s with
outrageous new minimum wage laws, you will all be saying.
” we didn’t expect this”.
These new wage law’s in our ” once great country” are the
answer to Mexico and Chuna’s prayers..
Don’t vote her back in. Small Businesses will go out of Business.
You need someone to help the Community as a hole. You cant raise the wages without raising prices on everything.
This is irresponsible.
THE FACT THAT THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT HAS TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE TELLS ME. AMERICANS ARE IN A SPIRALING DOWN OF INCOME PRODUCTION. EVENTUALLY EVERYBODY WILL WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT. THE ULTIMATE COMMUNIST GOAL. WE NEED TRUMP. IF THE MINIMUM WAGE GOES TO 15. WHAT DO WE DO FOR THE GUY WHO IS ALREADY AT 15? DO THEY GO TO 25?
And there’s one of the problems. I keep hearing these talking heads that keep saying “We need to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour.” Business says they’ll go broke and the politicians, union leaders and all around dumb fu ks say “Minimum wage earners are only 3% of the work force. What the hell happens with the people earning above minimum wage but less than 15 per hour. All of them then need to have their wages increased. And what about the guy whose been there for 12 years, already making 15 per hour. Are you going to leave him there or are you going to raise his pay.
Guess we quit spending all that money on college what is the incentive. It’s a political move. They don’t really give a hoot about min wage. It’s all about democrat voted. Shame on them. Willing to screw with our economy rather than take into consideration what’s healthy fir our economy.
Jim Fox says
And I thought CA was the stupid state.
If $11 an hour is good, then $25 would be better. So why not it $50 or $100 per hour?
Wouldn’t fit right in with “liberal logic”?
And, yes I know, using the term “liberal logic” is an oxymoron”.
Jim Fox says
That is a good one. I’ve never heard that term. Lol
How can the government decide what a small business can afford to pay it’s employees? You will soon cost more than a machine, machines don’t protest either. More jobs will be lost and democrats see that as more votes.
I strongly agree with all who have preceded me in the above discussion, but especially Frank W Brown!! You should run for president! Thank God that there are brilliant people such as you left in this country!!
John Heeckt says
What happens when within a few short years our computers become self-directing thinking machines which can do any task from building vehicles to picking apples in an orchard faster, better, more efficiently than humans? Will “Terminator” become a reality?
What will our machines want to do with all the useless human beings? Every year more and more “skilled” workers lose their livelihoods to technology. We are already welcoming the driverless car and the pilotless airplane. Australian mines have begun to eliminate drivers for their huge ore trucks because the automated vehicles are more efficient, have virtually no accidents and reduce wear on the huge and incredibly expensive tires for those trucks by 50% or more.
When minimum wages go up then the employees should be of better quality. Don’t put up with idiot workers who let others pull the weight. Went to get lunch once a a fast food joint. One of the workers did not know what he was doing, gave people the wrong order. When people complained he went back and fourth saying, this job doesn’t pay enough to put up with this. The manager needed to be replaced as he did nothing to rectify the problem. Had to go back to work without eating. Only went back when they had a brand new crew, but never for lunch. I would like to see them hiring older responsible people who need to work till a better job comes along. I have worked with young people most are responsible but some call in sick if they want to go somewhere on the weekend. Had a boss once that would call to see if everything was ok. If they were not avalable then their job was in danger. There are to many people that appreciate a job to put up with people that jump up and down screening for better wages. I won’t even go to a business where they are doing that. Afraid they will spit in my food.
When minimum wage hit $10 I noticed the dollar menu at drive through edging upward to$1.39 or more .Signs were posted due to higher labor costs menu items cost more includes the person who just got a raise so they get a bite out of their raise to have lunch.Next comes higher income taxes so what do they gain?Nothing.The government wins by the increase in taxes Liberal logic strikes again.
If our state government wants wages and costs to meet in the middle, then they need to look at all the regulations that raise the cost of just about everything. The state mandates raise the cost of everything from food to housing. My husband started out at $9.00 and makes $15.00 now. We bought a small farm and payed it off. People need to learn to live within their means instead of buying all the latest gadgets. Learn to cook from scratch, instead of buying prepacked meals. It isn’t hard if you are industrious but lazy people don’t have the skills needed to live on a budget.
This stupid plan will devastate Eastern Oregon and its farm economy, and it will increase greatly the use of ILLEGAL ALIENS for farm labor. Oregon.s economy will tank as businesses adjust to the new wage scales by firing their least desirable employees or be hiring ILLEGAL ALIENS. The demongougies continue their destruction of the American Dreamm
THE BEST TOO ENSURE THAT EVERYONE WHO WANTS TOO WORK AT A REASONABLE WAGE EVEN AN ILLEGALS
IS TOO MAKE SURE THE CORPORATIONS STOP MAKING THESE LARGE PROFITS. WE CAN GROW MORE FOOD IF THE GOVERMENT AND CORPORATIONS WOULD LET THE FARMERS DO IT.WITHOUT FOOD NOBODY WINS.
THE GOVERMENT IS ALL ABOUT TAKING OVER YOUR LIFES. BUT THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA ARE TOO BUSY WITH SPORTS AN MUSIC TOO REALLY SEE WHAT GOING ON..
More do gooder dem bullshit.
Alan Humphries says
It’s awfully nice of these asshat politicians to to pass laws without the consent of the people. Kind of like Obozoscam ain’t it? They think raising the minimum wage is a cure all and everything will be all better now.The libtard logic,which there is no logic,only creates problems for everyone. The people that get hurt Are the medium to small business owners,the engine that drives the community.
Also, people on a fixed income, get hurt and the government ends up giving them more government services.
Democrats do not understand economics, they only understand taking money from people that work and getting free stuff.
There should be no minimum wage. It makes it so expensive for the small employer that he can’t afford
to hire people with minimal skills and they are relegated to welfare and never experience the pride of
being self sustaining. They are paid according to their ability to produce. An experienced person that
takes pride in doing a job well and efficiently deserves to be paid more. If he is not he has the option of presenting himself to another employer that would appreciate his attributes. Needless to say,
the present employer would have a appreciation of this worker and would pay more in order to keep them,
It does not require government intervention. They are the least eficient and more of a hindrance then a help.
In an age where artificial intelligence is right around the corner it makes no sense to keep pushing business in this way. For business that actually wants to employ human beings, they will soon have no choice but to automate. It’s just like our government to underestimate the desire for business owners to actually do what they have to to stay in business. It’s going to be a really tough world for people who have no real skill other than manual labor. There will simply be no need for it the way things are going. When faced with buying a machine or going out of business it’s a pretty simple answer.
When the minimum wage goes up, the higher wage earners get raises. Since the minimum wage is going up so high, trained workers will get raises of between $2 and $5 dollars an hour, fairly soon. This will raise the cost of goods and services. Inflation will take a big jump. The minimum wage earners will be back where they started. But the people living on fixed incomes, will be hurt the worse.
Democrats are very stupid, they can not understand basic economics. They do understand, take away the money from people that work and getting free stuff.