Oregon Minimum Wage to Increase $ .30

by William Pilgrim

Oregon’s minimum wage will rise from $8.50 to $8.80 on January 1, 2012, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced September 15th. This is a small but significant ongoing victory for Oregon workers.  In most of the country minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and a ridiculous $2.13 per hour for tipped employees.

In Oregon the minimum wage applies to most workers and this means that all workers in Oregon are getting a raise next year.  While the raise is designed only to match annual inflation (the overall yearly increase in prices), this wage increase, though small, means more money will be kept in our communities in the form of wages, and helps keep the gainfully employed out of abject poverty. 

This wage translates into $18,000 per year before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income, and other taxes, barely enough for a single person to get by on, and certainly not enough for a family.  

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2 Responses to “Oregon Minimum Wage to Increase $ .30”

  1. All workers are NOT getting an increse! Only minimum wage earners.
    It is hard to come by negative comments regarding the minimum wage increase. However, when only the lowest paid worker’s wages increase so significantly and no one else’s wages do… it can be detrimental to everyone else who doesn’t qualify. The minimum wage will be increased in Oregon by $0.30 in 2012, but no one making more than that will benefit… in fact, they will be at a dissadvantage. Because of it, everyone making more than the bare minimum will ultimately be getting a decrease in wage compared to the required minimum (and the higher cost of living resulting from it) because their employers are not required to give them an increase as well. I have employees that rightfully deserve a wage/salary increase due to their great performance, however, they will go unrewarded for their achievement because I will not be able to offer the promotions, bonuses, and wage increases in 2012 that I could have if it wasn’t for the hike in the lowest genra of wage earners at my place of business. Furthermore, those who were making more than minimum wage will be left feeling unappreciated and unrewarded for their dedication and skill which could decrease their job performace and ultimately cause them to quit since they now will not be getting the raise or benefits they expected. Think about how much you’re making right now and then think about how much you’re making after each minimum wage increase… Your salary keeps declining as the new hires and unqualified worker’s wages increase (although they often times get tips and you don’t), as also increases the price of your expenses… but your salary isn’t able to increase anymore like it would otherwise because of the cost of the bottom wage earners who would have been satisfied with an increase in their wage based on merit and their individual job performance, and happier with more hours with the same wage rather than less hours making a higher amount per hour resulting in less money at the end of the week. It would only be fair if EVERYONE’S wage was required to increase the same amount as a minimum wage earner’s does, however, it is obvious that businesses cannot afford such an expense unless they increase the cost of their goods and services to the consumer so much more than they already have to. I empathise with minimum wage earners wanting an increase in wage, however, and increase in wage will sometimes amount in a decrease of the hours they’re scheduled to work per week anyway (just like it has in the past at my business unfortunately) and an increase in the price of goods and services they buy. Luckily, everyone working for me at the minimum wage level lives with a household of atleast 3 or more other adults, etc. who contribute to the household income and get thousands of dollars in Government tax credits each year for each of their MANY children since they are low wage earners! Where does it end? I have a payroll cap which means there are less people I can hire and less of an hourly wage I can offer to employees who make make more than minimum…. and the loss in profit, as well as the loss of quality employees whose wages don’t seem to justify their ability compared to the minimum wage anymore… unfortunately results in a decrease in benefits and hours we offer to our staff, and a higher turn-over rate. Now that this minimum wage increase will be in place, the maximum vacation days we offer our employees I just learned is being decreased from 12 to 8, and no more sick pay for days taken off when long term employees are ill like there used to be. No more overtime pay hours can be offered either unless absolutely unavoidable…. as well as longer hours salaried employees are required to work (who don’t qualify for time and a half pay) My payroll budget can’t increase enough to justify the minimum waye now whithout making significant cuts in other areas. If this pattern continues we could very well be out of business, and all of us out of a job in the near future!

  2. Unfortunately almost everyone who’s making (or qualifies for) more than minimum wage living in Oregon or Washington (which have the highest minimum wage in the nation) is at a disadvantage because of the minimum wage increase. Also, what some people don’t realize is that the most hard-working, beneficial employees who get minimum wage could also be at a loss since their opportunity for growth in the company and work schedule hours often decreases as a direct result. Also, the workers making more than minimum whose wages does not enjoy the same increase will ultimately be getting a decrease in wage compared to the required minimum (and the higher cost of living they see resulting from it) because their employers are not required to give them an increase in wage as well. I work in Portland, OR and have employees who rightfully deserve a decent salary increase due to their great performance and long lasting dedication. However, they do not get rewarded for their performance like they should because I am not able to offer the same promotions, bonuses, and wage increases anymore which I could have if the lowest genre of wage earners at my work did not keep getting mandatory minimum wage increases. My employers own numerous other small businesses similar to mine in the Portland area and they are all struggling with this dilemma. The top performers’ salary stays the same or decreases (especially in comparison), but the new hires and unqualified worker’s wages keep increasing even when they perform badly. In the meanwhile, the salary as well as benefits they/we receive are not able to stay the same, let alone increase anymore like they could have otherwise because of the cost increase that the bottom wage earners amount to each year (many of whom get tips which add up to way more than those who qualify for a higher wage).To make matters worse, the prices my company charges consumers for the services we offer have had to stay the same or decrease year over year in order to stay competitive in the market due to the economy. Larger corporations can (and not always, but sometimes will) still offer a small increase for all of their workers because they can pass the expense on to their consumers or decide to take a cut in profit. Unfortunately we are not able to. We have not been making a profit the last few years, yet have in fact been taking a huge loss in hopes that we will eventually get out of this bad economy and desperate market soon.We want to pay more money and offer better incentives to get or keep skilled and experienced workers/managers who could help our business succeed and grow into being profitable again someday (and help rule out the chance of us going out of business or cutting even more benefits and hours). Unfortunately, the money we would have been able to offer the employees who could have potentially brought our business back on track allowing us to hire more workers and taste a glimpse of possible profit or at least a balanced approach, is not financially possible these days because of the minimum wage increase on top of the multitude of other cost increases we’re forced to accept every year. (And the money we were finally approved to borrow from the banks after so long had to go toward renovations.) I empathize with minimum wage earners wanting an increase in wage, however, and increase in wage for new hires and low level workers (sometimes illegal immigrants or young folks starting out) etc. will amount in a decrease in benefits as well as hours offered, and may not allow them to grow in the company or earn the wage increase deserved if they exceed their job performance expectations the way it would have otherwise. Also, most of the minimum wage earners at my job get tips and the workers who make more than minimum wage do not. Therefore, the minimum wage earners can (and most often) end up making much more than their superiors. In addition, most of them do not include their tips in the income they claim on their tax returns when they’re paid in cash so they can still qualify for the tax deductions and refunds associated with being a low income earner (which is especially beneficial when they have kids). I have become aware that fortunately for our employees who make minimum wage, they all live in a household of atleast 2 or more other adults and receive food stamps and government assistance, etc. along with thousands of dollars in Government tax credits each year for each of their many children since they are low wage earners. The best candidates for us to feel sorry for are not always the minimum wage earners, we should also think about those who are unfortunate enough to make just slightly over the income amount required to qualify for government assistance since those who make slightly less do qualify and pay much less out of pocket for their expenses. Quite a few of our employees make sure to not accept full time work or extra hours when it is offered to them because it could jeopardize the government benefits they receive which well exceeds the pay they give up. It is also not fair that the responsible workers who earn more of an hourly wage due to their contribution to the company end up making way less than the employees under them since they don’t get tips. In Oregon; tipped workers still get the minimum wage which everyone else who doesn’t get tips make… a waiter/waitress in my business’s restaurant (which has significantly low menu prices in order to be competitive with the suburban market we’re in) makes an average of $36 an hour when you include the tips with their minimum wage of $8.80 ($8.95 in 2013)… why should they qualify to get their minimum wage increased when they make so much more than that with tips and their supervisor who has better skills and keeps the restaurant afloat only gets $14 an hour or less without any tips at all and is lucky if they even get a 5 cent increase? Where does it end? I have a payroll cap which means there are less people I can hire and less of an hourly wage I can offer to employees who make more than minimum. What once seemed like a good wage to them has decreased in value over the years and has now become a disappointment as the cost of the goods and services they/we buy keep increasing. The prices they pay for goods keep increasing and their salary does not keep up with it so there’s less they can spend than they would have otherwise… They say minimum wage earners help local businesses by buying more goods and services, however, it’s contradicted by the fact that non-minimum wage earners spend/buy much less than they used to (like myself). I dread telling my best employees they can’t get a wage increase each year like the minimum wage workers do. It’s not because our business is greedy! It’s because we want to stay in business! The wages and benefits we could have offered to those who could have helped get us out of this terrible decline in revenue are now no longer a possibility unless we decide to fire some of the minimum wage earners and eliminate more of whats left of the health and vacation benefits across the board (which have been decreasing significantly year over year as well). The cost of all of our expenses keep rising, as does the minimum wage… but when will the skilled/talented workers who keep private sector small businesses alive ever be thought of to receive the same attention and consideration? I would rather reward our employees with wage increases based on their record of success and contribution to our company’s survival and livelihood… however, I’m forced to reward the new hires, inexperienced, and under-performing with an increase in wage while watching the employee moral, benefits and dedication of our top performers slowly diminish when we need them the most! Would you be happier getting the mandatory increase all of your peers get, or getting more than them based on performance? That could be the determining factor in the success of the company.

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