Oregon minimum wage increase starts tomorrow

MEDFORD, Ore. — “There’s so much uncertainty going forward on how many businesses will be able to maintain and just keep going at those lower levels of demand and lower demands of foot traffic,” said Guy Tauer, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Dept.

Interesting times ahead, is how Tauer describes today’s economic climate

This, as Oregon’s minimum wage, is set to increase Wednesday, July 1st.

“This is the 75 cent an hour raise that we’re seeing this year, so from $11.25 to $12 an hour in the Rogue Valley,” he said.

According to senate bill 1532, which passed in 2016, the minimum wage will increase every year until 2022.

Tauer says the bill passed when Oregon was coming out of the Great Recession. And with the economy growing, the Rogue Valley added more jobs.

“If we look at that total in the Rogue Valley as 6,500 that we estimate as earning minimum wage, 45 percent of all of those are in the leisure and hospitality sector,” he said.

Tauer says roughly 6,500 jobs in Jackson County and 2,600 in Josephine County pay minimum wage.

That’s around 6.5  percent of total jobs in each county.

Many of them, he says, are in the hospitality and leisure sector hit hard by coronavirus.

“We have a lot of folks not working because some of the businesses have been curtailed or not running full operations yet,” said Tauer.

How the mandated wage increases will affect employers and employees alike, Tauer says, remains to be seen.

Businesses may have to cut more costs.

“They’ll either look at reducing labor costs or substituting machinery for labor. You might find businesses cutting back on some positions if they can automate in certain areas in their operation,” he said.

But people will have more money in their pockets, he says, which benefits the economy.

In Jackson and Josephine County, it’s going up to $12 an hour.

In Klamath County, it’ll be $11.50.

The Portland Metro area will increase to $13.25.

Non-urban counties will increase to $11.50.

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