Yesterday, Oregon achieved two things: it passed the highest minimum wage in America, and the first minimum wage law that has multiple tiers tied to cost of living in certain areas.
Exciting times (in minimum wage law)! Here is what the new Oregon law will do:
The proposal would start a series of gradual increases over six years: Oregon’s current $9.25 an hour minimum – already one of the highest in the nation – would jump to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities by 2022.
Currently, only Washington, DC has a (state-level) minimum wage higher than $10 per hour, but Massachusetts is raising its minimum to $11 per hour starting next year. Oregon’s new law surpasses that, and takes a meaningful stab at addressing a common objection to high minimum wages: that they penalize businesses in areas with lower costs of living.
The new law was crafted in part as a compromise designed to forestall burgeoning movements for an even higher wage in Oregon. The wage increase has pissed off the usual suspects—but they would be pissed off with any increase at all!
The arguments over significantly higher minimum wages and the effects of these kinds of tiers are all theoretical until we try it. Why not try it in a state called: Oregon? If this model is effective in Oregon it could be copied all over America, so, hey, great.
[Photo: Oregon DOT/ Flickr]