First installment of Oregon minimum wage hike takes effect Friday; small business owners express concern

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reports

Small business owners in Oregon say they are worried about how the first of a series of minimum wage increases will affect both their profits and their employees.

The U-B links to a longer story in the Corvallis Gazette-Times that reports,

Restaurants, farms, retail establishments and nonprofits will be the industries most impacted by the mandatory pay increases, said Patrick O’Connor, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department.

One result is increased labor costs will be passed on to customers, who will pay more for their meals, products and services, said Janet Steele, executive director of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Somebody has to pay, or else businesses will close their doors,” she added.

Last February we wrote about Oregon’s tiered approach to the increased minimum wage. Our post quoted Manhattan Institute analyst Preston Cooper, who predicts:
Many people, especially the young, will be shut out of job opportunities as employers find they can no longer afford to hire them. While some Beaver Staters may get a raise, for too many the Oregon Trail will end in disappointment.
Oregon’s natural experiment begins Friday.
Meanwhile, Washington voters may see a minimum wage and paid sick leave measure on the November ballot. The Association of Washington Business has announced its opposition to I-1433.

“Our board was overwhelmingly concerned over the cost of Initiative 1433 and how it would impact job retention and growth, particularly for young adults who are in minimum wage jobs,” [AWB president Kris] Johnson said. The minimum wage should be a starting point. Quickly and arbitrarily raising it to $13.50 per hour could have unintended consequences, including driving some industries out of the state and removing an important rung on the ladder for those seeking to enter the workforce.

For a comprehensive review of minimum wage policies – and a good preview of arguments likely to be heard in a fall compaign – read the Washington Research Council’s special report on the issue.