Oregon now has highest minimum wage in the country

The bill will raise the minimum wage incrementally until 2022

Governor Kate Brown signs a bill to raise the minimum wage, March 2 2016. (KOIN)
Governor Kate Brown signs a bill to raise the minimum wage, March 2 2016. (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown signed a bill Wednesday that raises the state’s minimum wage.

The incremental increases will eventually bring the minimum wage to $14.75 an hour inside the Portland city limits by the year 2022.

On the coast, Willamette Valley and Cascade foothills, the minimum wage will top out at $13.50 an hour. In remote areas, eastern Oregon and 3 rural counties in southern Oregon, the hourly wage will be raised to $12.50.

Governor Brown is pleased with the legislation, which goes into effect in July.

The legislation paves the way for Oregon to lead the country in wage increases.

“This is something that, in the long run, is going to be good for Oregon families and is going to add to consumer purchasing power that will benefit our small businesses,” Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told KOIN 6 News.

But despite its many supporters, the new law still has its critics, especially affordable housing advocates. They say workers need wage increases now, not 6 years from now. Others say higher wages will raise costs and ultimately hurt small businesses.

“Unfortunately, the cost of living isn’t easing up to wait for 6 years,” Nico Bella said.

The group 15 Now Oregon agrees the law doesn’t do enough, quickly enough.

“It’s a step forward for Oregon workers but it’s too little and too long,” Jamie Partridge with 15 Now Oregon said. “The studies show, and anecdotal evidence, is that workers need $15 to get out of poverty all across Oregon.

The group is working to collect 88,000 signatures by July in order to get a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 all across Oregon in the next 3 years.

They’ve already gathered 40,000 signatures.

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