“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)