BEND, OR -- Oregon's minimum wage increases Monday, about halfway through a plan to raise the for the state's lowest earners approved by the Legislature in 2016. The Oregon Center for Public Policy estimates the latest hike will impact a quarter of a million jobs. Economic Development for Central Oregon CEO Roger Lee says it won't improve wages for most workers in the High Desert, "Those minimum wage jobs in Deschutes County represent about 5.7% of the total jobs out there; so that's a pretty small number."
On July first, Deschutes County, and other counties in the "Standard" tier, will see the minimum wage rise to $11.25/hour. The "Nonurban" rate, used in rural areas like Jefferson and Crook counties, increases to $11/hour. In Portland, the rate will become $12.50/hour. Standard counties and Portland continue with $.75 increases each July first through 2022. Nonurban counties increase by $.50 during the same timeframe. Click HERE for more details.
Lee sees minimum wage jobs as important, and says they're not supposed to last forever. "You need to have some entry level positions, and entry level wages to accompany that, that are commensurate with value added and so forth, while somebody that's being trained to do other work," he tells KBND News, "Or, they're in a job that will lead to other jobs. It's not something you're going to be doing for a lifetime." He thinks the increases could put jobs at risk, "It just places an additional burden on employers to come up with those wages and to help train the emerging workforce." He adds, "EDCO really supports increasing wages with better jobs, rather than telling employers what they need to pay." Lee believes employers should decide how much to pay someone in training, "They're learning on the job. In many cases, they're adding value, but maybe they're not adding value at a rate they would be in a longer term type of a role where learning is not an important part of the position."