The hearings have been scheduled. There will be five bills which all have to do with raising Oregon’s minimum wage to anywhere from $10.75 to $15. As a business owner and an employer I am against all of these bills. And maybe you aren’t surprised by that at all, because I’m an employer and I want to get the cheapest labor I can, right? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are the real reasons why I’m against raising Oregon’s minimum wage.
1. We already have a high minimum wage. The second highest to be exact in the United States, which is currently $9.25. The second highest minimum wage while at the same time ranking 30th in unemployment. I don’t think that a correlation can be made with better jobs, more jobs, and a better economy linked to just paying entry level workers a higher wage. Minimum wage is just that, a minimum for starting out.
2. It doesn’t fix the problem that Oregon has. What we need is more middle level jobs in Oregon, not entry level jobs that pay like middle level jobs. You cannot expect to just not have an entry level workforce. If you do that, it will maybe help a few workers, but the vast majority, ei high school students or others just entering the workplace will not have a job, because businesses can’t afford to hire them at such high wages. Which leads me to point number three.
3. The money has to come from somewhere. And for many businesses, to make this work the increase pay for entry level employees will take away from current employees. There is no giant pot of money sitting around on our farm just waiting to be dipped into to pay for this pay increase. The money will inevitably come from reduced hiring tactics, decreased benefits for current employees, and even cuts in bonus pay or yearly wage increases.
Our farm in particular has always tried to take an active role in the youth of our community. Hiring many high school aged workers during the summer. We do this more as a favor to them, to help them earn money for college, let them learn about the farm, how to keep a job, and the responsibilities that entails. I know that we aren’t the only business in Oregon that takes pride in the attention that we pay to high schoolers that might not otherwise have any work experience. But I am afraid that situations like this, will be hard to find if the cost of that worker is up to $15/hour. It is just too high for businesses to absorb.
In the end, this isn’t a good fit for Oregon. What we need to do in this state is focus more on working with businesses, to make them more successful and that will in turn create more jobs and more importantly create more middle level jobs. I don’t think that falsely “creating” jobs at the middle level will do anything but harm businesses here in this state. Just look at Seattle and the battle they are fighting, realizing that to pay people more for their hourly entry level jobs doesn’t mean people get paid more, it means less people get hired and more businesses suffering in the process. The economics have to add up, and in this case they don’t at all.
I unfortunately can’t make it down to Salem to testify this evening, but I have no doubt there will be many farmers, and many business men and women who will be reiterating all that I have said here. We have got to find a way for Oregon to be a more business friendly state, and I really hope that all the legislators truly listen to what those business owners are saying tonight. We want to stay in this great state, we really want to help the economy, but we can’t do that if we keep getting beat down with regulations and higher costs. This is not a healthy way to run our state.