Governor Brown today signed legislation that is a break-away effort to provide Oregon workers among the highest minimum wage rates in the country. The now new law calls for a 50 cent an hour raise for all minimum wage earners effective July 1st. Between now and 2022 minimum wages will rise in steps until they reach $14.75 an hour in the Portland Metro, $13.50 an hour for mid-sized counties like Lane, Marion and Deschutes and $12.50 an hour in all other rural counties – again, effective 2022. From then on, minimum wage rates will be raised annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Opponents of raising the minimum wage, largely business owners, contend the higher wage will hurt business and force layoffs. Supporters say such gloom and doom has been forecasted with every minimum wage increase in the country, and every time the gloomy accusations have proven false. Supporters also raise the issue that the minimum wage was never designed solely to provide teen-agers with their first job – it’s supposed to be a minimum wage by which a worker can support himself with basic necessities like shelter, food and transportation which today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour doesn’t come close to providing – $7.25 an hour producing a monthly gross income of barely $1,250 a month, which nets less than $1,000 a month – below the official poverty level.