Governor Kate Brown signed into law this afternoon the largest state minimum wage increase in the country. SB 1532 will raise the minimum wage in Oregon steadily over the next six years, starting this July with a 50-cent increase to $9.75 per hour. This minimum wage increase will have a great effect on college students, who make up a significant portion of Oregon’s minimum wage workforce – about half, according to the Oregon Department of Employment estimates from 2016.
The bill will create a tiered system, categorizing counties in Oregon by their geography. By 2022, the base wage will be $13.50 an hour, but higher within the Portland Metro Area at $14.75. In rural counties, the wage will be $12.50 an hour. Starting in 2023, the state will go back to the old method of adjustment, which bases increases off of the consumer price index.
Efforts to increase Oregon’s minimum wage have circulated for the past several years, but there was a big push this year by public universities and labor unions, which sponsored several wage hike initiatives for the ballot this November. Whether these initiatives will still be up for vote in light of the passing of this new bill is still unclear.
The Emerald will have more to come on the effect of the wage increase on students.