Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oregon governor proposes raising minimum wage higher in urban areas than rural ones

Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown introduced a plan to raise the state's minimum wage, setting the wage hike higher in the Portland metro area than in the rest of the mostly rural state, Denis Theriault reports for The Oregonian. Under the plan Oregon, which currently has a state minimum wage of $9.25—$2 higher than the national figure—would raise minimum wage in Portland to $15.52 in 2022 and $13.50 in the rest of the state. The first increases, taking place in January 2017, would raise Portland's minimum wage to $11.79 and to $10.22 in the rest of the state.

For the bill to pass, Brown will need support from Democrats in rural areas, where the minimum wage hike is not popular among businesses and some Republicans, who say raising the minimum wage will force businesses to close or move out of state, Theriault writes. Supporters of raising the minimum wage say waiting six years for the plan to take its full effect is too long for workers who need the increased wages now.

"Brown has been clear since last fall that she supports a higher statewide wage that goes easier on rural economies but that also reflects the expense of living and working in Portland," Theriault writes. "But she repeatedly declined to give any numbers or say how she thought lawmakers should separate the state from its largest city." Brown said in a statement: "The costs of essentials such as food, child care and rent are rising so fast that wages can't keep up. Many Oregonians working full-time can't make ends meet, and that's not right." (Read more)

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