It’s a familiar pattern: new year, new minimum wage. In Oregon, the state-mandated hourly rate is now $8.40, up 45 cents from $7.95 in 2008. Under Oregon law, the wage rises each year, automatically, based on increases in the consumer price index. As one might expect, many papers did stories on the new minimum wage, asking whether it is a blessing or a burden:
Proponents say the wage hikes pumps more money back into local economies by increasing compensation for those who need it most (and are most likely to spend it). But the law, which was approved by voter initiative in 2002, has its critics. Groups such as the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Association of Nurseries say it’s too much of a burden on Oregon’s agricultural producers, who must compete against states where the wage is lower. Further, they say the increase is based on what’s happening in Oregon’s largest cities and ignores the realities in rural areas. Even in cities, small business owners struggling in the current economy are critical.
The Oregon Restaurant Association has announced it will push during the 2009 legislative session to end the automatic index-based increase. We blogged about that idea a few months ago; see this video for comments from OAN Director of Government Relations Jeff Stone.