» Wage law: Tough choices indeed


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Wage law: Tough choices indeed

Written March 9th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
For businesses like this paradise for book lovers, the wage law is a "devastating" problem.

For businesses like this paradise for book lovers, the wage law is a “devastating” problem.

“Oregon’s new minimum wage will create ‘tough choices’ for public universities,” the Oregonian laments in a headline. No kidding. But the choices it creates for the private sector are tougher still.

The Portland paper’s story points out that the Democrats’ successful push for a jump in the minimum wage, starting this July with a $1,040-a-year boost per full-time worker, will be a problem for Oregon State and the other public universities that hire a lot of students. The colleges will likely get rid of many of those student workers in order to pay the rest more. Their other choices are to raise tuition even more than planned, or to get rid of part of the bloat in their administrative overhead. But if the choice is between letting go some cafeteria helpers or the latest additions to the office of inclusion and diversity, you know who is going to get the ax.

All of that is no news to the majority Democrats who enacted the wage hike. So why a headline now, after the legislature adjourns?

There are no headlines yet about what is going to happen all over the state to small business. But you get the idea from, for example, the online newsletter of Browsers’ Bookstore in Albany and Corvallis.

In his edition for March, owner Scott Givens says Browsers’ is pretty much a break-even business without huge profits. And he writes: “The minimum wage increase will be devastating. Although we have always tried to pay above minimum, there is no way we can keep up with the pace of the new law. I am in the midst of formulating a five-pronged attack to survive, but the bottom line is this: Browsers’ simply cannot continue to do business the way it has for fifteen years; and some painful decisions will have to be made.”

He says nice things about his employees and concludes: “All I can ask is that you please have patience with us as we work out a way to continue to offer great books at affordable prices.”

That’s the hope all right. Browsers’ is a paradise for book lovers. But why would legislators including the senator representing Albany and Corvallis make it harder for this business to survive? (hh)

6 responses to “Wage law: Tough choices indeed”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    The Oregonian Editorial Page is a shill for ultra-conservatives. Much better off to stick with the legit news.

    The universities aren’t going to quit hiring students for work study.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Prof. Walter Williams asked the right question in one of his columns:

    “Is it likely that an employer would find it in his interests to pay a worker $15 an hour when that worker has skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value an hour to the employer’s output?”

    It appears Mr. Givens and some hiring managers at the universities understand the concept. But Bob? Not so much….

    • Bob Woods says:

      Gordon, you are truly clueless. First, work study jobs in college have been federally subsidized for decades and they’re not going away.

      As far as Pro. Walter Williams statement, only an idiot would fail to understand that paying a worker $5.10 for $5.00 in production is dumb. No capitalist of any salt pays people more that their production value.The issue isn’t what the minimum wage is, it’s what the differential is between the cost of labor and the additional value produced.

      And the real issue is why we, the people, should keep subsidizing businesses who insist on paying wages that keep people in poverty. You hate subsidies, you’ve said that a bazillion times. But you also hate government requiring businesses pay a minimum wage so that people don’t have to live in poverty.

      Gordon Shadle: The defender of the duty to be abjectly poor so that others might get rich.

  3. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Pulling the historical min. wage info for Oregon gives interesting results for the last 20 years:

    OR Min. Wage

    YEAR $$$ % Inc.
    1996 $4.75
    1997 $5.50 15.79
    1998 $6.00 9.09
    2000 $6.50 8.33
    2003 $6.90 6.15
    2004 $7.05 2.17
    2005 $7.25 2.84
    2006 $7.50 3.45
    2007 $7.60 1.33
    2008 $7.95 4.61
    2009 $8.40 5.67
    2011 $8.80 4.36
    2013 $8.95 1.71
    2014 $9.10 1.68
    2015 $9.25 1.65
    2016 $9.75 5.41
    2017 $10.25 5.13 Proposed
    2018 $10.75 4.88 Proposed
    2019 $11.25 4.65 Proposed
    2020 $12.00 6.67 Proposed
    2021 $12.75 6.35 Proposed
    2022 $13.50 5.88 Proposed

    1996-2003 = 45.3% increase
    2003-2008 = 15.2% increase
    2008-2016 = 22.6% increase
    2016-2022 = 38.5% increase

    With the very acerbic hyperbole being bandied about, should we take bets that Oregon will be an employment wasteland by 2022?

  4. Rich Kellum says:

    Ray. do you remember the unemployment numbers in 2007 2008 and 2009 you know maybe it was the reason that Oregon didn’t come back as quickly as others..

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    And Social Security has increased something like 3.4% over the last 3 increases


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