Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s efforts to set the nation’s highest minimum wage in her state have apparently backfired due to the vociferous opposition of business leaders and other residents concerned about the negative employment impact.
Brown earned widespread media coverage for her proposal
to mandate a $13.50 statewide minimum hourly wage, with employers in and around Portland forced to add more than $2 more per hour to that base rate. While some activists applauded her initiative, fiscal conservatives led the charge to disprove claims that an artificially inflated minimum wage would not cost Oregonians their jobs.
The governor also faced criticism for not including a clause in her plan to allow young workers to earn a lower wage. In light of these and other hurdles in the way of advancing the plan, Brown has reportedly backed off from the sharp increases she initially proposed. She now supports a gradual increase, beginning with a 50-cent-per-hour bump later this year that would put the state’s minimum wage at $9.75.
By 2022, the new forecast puts the statewide base rate at $13.25 per hour with Portland-area workers earning at least $14.50.
Voters in the state might still have a chance to weigh in on a $15/hour minimum wage initiative backed by a local union. In fact, Brown’s staff referred to such efforts as a reason for her executive proposal, insisting that “the ballot measures are so much worse.”