Universities assess cost of Oregon’s minimum wage

Ashland, Ore. — Oregon’s minimum wage will start climbing higher in a matter of months, affecting local businesses, big corporations and the state’s public universities where hundreds of students work at minimum wage. Now, university officials say they’ll have to evaluate how best to address the added cost.

“Anytime you talk about an increase in employee compensation there are some budgetary and operational impacts,” explained SOU spokesperson Ryan Brown.

Officials at Southern Oregon University are crunching numbers in an effort to evaluate the added cost for minimum wage employees who will start making more this July.

“We’re talking about just over 50,000 dollars and then it goes up from there with the rest of the increases,” said Brown.

SOU estimates about 500 employees will be impacted by the increases, costing the university an extra 54,000 dollars during fiscal year 2017, and 214,000 dollars by fiscal year 2023. All together, the university estimating an increase of about 890,000 dollars by the time the wage reaches $13.50.

SOU spokesman Ryan Brown says the school will have to find ways to address the added cost, looking at tuition revenue as a means to close the gap. It’s unclear at this point if that will have a direct impact on student tuition costs.

“If there aren’t additional funds allocated by the legislature to cover the increase in minimum wage for universities, then certainly we’ll have to use tuition revenue to pay those employees’ salaries,” described Brown.

It’s a similar scenario for Oregon Tech, where an estimated 500 plus employees getting a boost in pay will cost the school an estimated 935,000 dollars over the course of 6 years.

A spokesperson for Oregon Tech says they are looking at reducing the number of student workers, or raising tuition to make up for the additional costs.

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