The Bend Chamber is here to support small business in response to the new legislation that will make Oregon’s minimum wage one of the highest in the U.S.
“Now is the time for businesses in our community to start preparing for significant changes,” said Bend Chamber President and CEO Tim Casey. “These changes may include companies having to reduce their workforces, cut employee hours or employee benefits in order to survive.”
Oregon’s minimum wage is currently $9.25 an hour. The new plan outlined in Senate Bill 1532, which Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement she expects to sign into law, calls for a three-tiered regional system that will be implemented over a six-year period. By 2022, Deschutes County’s minimum wage will rise to $13.50. Portland’s minimum wage will soar to $14.75 and rural communities will have a minimum wage of $12.50.
Bend has a large service-driven industry with many restaurants and tourism-related businesses that will be severely impacted, Casey said.
More than 30 letters from the Bend Chamber and its membership were sent to lawmakers in opposition to SB1532.
“The Bend Chamber worked hard to voice the impact this legislation would have on business, as well as both our state and local economy,” Casey said.
Casey said the Bend Chamber is working in partnership with the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association to help provide as much education and assistance as possible to businesses.
During the Bend Chamber’s What’s Brewing Community Forum in January, Senator Knopp stated, “The minimum wage was never meant to be a career, it was meant to be a starting point.”
A raise in minimum wage will impact those on a fixed income – seniors, veterans and the disabled – the most.
“The Oregon State Legislature just created artificial inflation,” Casey said. “The new dollars that minimum wage earners receive will be offset by an increase in the costs of products and services.”
Oregon’s historically high minimum wage has not yielded economic gains for Oregon workers. Since 2002, when Oregon voters passed Measure 25 to increase minimum wage and index for inflation, Oregon’s unemployment rate has consistently exceeded the federal unemployment rate and Oregon’s wage and salary income per employee has consistently trailed the U.S. average.
“The real winner of a minimum wage increase will be state government who will see a significant increase in employment tax,” Casey said.