According to this release from Littler, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown recently signed the first geographically-tiered minimum-wage hike in the country. Her Senate Bill 1532 also gives Oregon the nation’s current highest political statewide minimum wage.
Basically, the state’s current minimum wage is $9.25; however, beginning July 1, 2016, it will rise steadily each year through at least June 30, 2023. How much the rate will increase will depend on where an employer is located within the state.
In other words, this approach allowed the drafter of the plan to account for a higher cost of living in the Portland metro area, for instance, and a lower cost of living in rural parts of the state.
Here is the actual table, with some explanation and footnotes showing the rundown of the plan:
|Effective Date of Rate Increase||Base Rate||Exception: Rate within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary2||Exception: Rate within Nonurban Counties3|
|July 1, 2016||$9.75||$9.75||$9.50|
|July 1, 2017||$10.25||$11.25||$10.00|
|July 1, 2018||$10.75||$12.00||$10.50|
|July 1, 2019||$11.25||$12.50||$11.00|
|July 1, 2020||$12.00||$13.25||$11.50|
|July 1, 2021||$12.75||$14.00||$12.00|
|July 1, 2022||$13.50||$14.75||$12.50|
After June 30, 2023, the base rate will be adjusted for inflation, with the Portland rate set $1.25 above the base and the nonurban county rate set $1.00 below the base.
Employers should review their payroll practices and, as with any minimum wage increase, implement any required changes to comply with each of the upcoming rate adjustments starting later this year.
1 Some cities have recently raised the minimum wage higher than the projected rates established by Oregon’s new law.
2 An area encompassing the City of Portland and much of the greater tri-county area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties) that is managed and periodically expanded by Metro, the Portland area regional government.
3 Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler counties.
Interestingly, this piece by Kristen Hannum of the Catholic News Service suggests certain lawmakers relied on their religious faith to inform their votes. As Democratic state Rep. Rob Nosse, of Portland, told the Catholic Sentinel, the archdiocesan newspaper, “Absolutely my faith informs how I voted on this and how I think about it.”
Other religious groups in the state apparently don’t even think the new wage does enough. Jeanne Haster, executive director of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, thought the legislation could have gone further, but she appreciates the compromises made to pass the bill. “It’s a practical approach,” she tells Hannum.
One she doesn’t even follow.
According to the story, Haster says her Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest sets its employees’ salaries according to Portland’s estimated living wage, which was pegged at $13.56 an hour in the summer of 2015. As she suggests, the Portland, Ore., poverty problem that Oregon legislators were at least willing to consider and act on, is huge:
“We try to pay a living wage rather than a minimum wage because Portland has become such a difficult city to afford to live in. I don’t know how people who make minimum wage live. I think we need to be paying people so they can escape living in poverty.”
It’ll be interesting to see if other states follow Oregon’s lead in trying to address this problem regionally and geographically. That would certainly turn this “plateau” into a whole new chapter.