Oregon's Minimum Wage Will Become Highest in Nation

State Will Employ Three Different Regional Minimum Wages

By Richard R. Meneghello and Anne Milligan, © Fisher & Phillips Feb 22, 2016
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I​n a first-of-its-kind development, the Oregon legislature passed and the governor will sign into law a minimum wage hike law that will go into effect July 1, 2016. Under the new law, the rates will steadily increase through 2023, eventually giving Oregon the highest minimum wage rates in the nation.

For the first time in Oregon history, employers will pay different minimum wage rates depending on the part of the state in which they are located, with employers in Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary paying the most, employers in sparsely populated “frontier” areas paying the least, and a middle tier of all other employers in between. The details are as follows:

 Employers Located Within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary

Parts of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties (see map here)
Employers Located In Frontier Counties

Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler Counties
Employers Located In Remaining Areas

Such as Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, Springfield, Corvallis, Albany, etc.
July 1, 2016$9.75$9.50$9.75
July 1, 2017$11.25$10.00$10.25
July 1, 2018$12.00$10.50$10.75
July 1, 2019$12.50$11.00$11.25
July 1, 2020$13.25$11.50$12.00
July 1, 2021$14.00$12.00$12.75
July 1, 2022$14.75$12.50$13.50
July 1, 2023 and beyondA rate annually adjusted for inflation, but must be no less than $1.25/hour more than rest of stateA rate no less than $1.00/hour less than rest of stateA rate annually adjusted for inflation

The law does not specifically explain how an employer should determine its location for purposes of paying minimum wage, or whether employees will be entitled to various wage rates if they travel through the state (or out of the state) as part of their jobs. Instead, the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries has been given the authority to issue rules that will describe how that determination is to be made.

Several worker-advocacy groups have been collecting signatures on proposed ballot measures since last summer, seeking to raise the minimum wage for all Oregon workers; one would raise the state-wide minimum wage to $15.00 by 2019, and another would raise the rate to $13.50 by 2018. It remains to be seen whether passage of this law will dissuade advocates from continuing their efforts to include these proposals on the November ballot.

Richard R. Meneghello and Anne Milligan are attorneys in the Portland, Ore., office of Fisher & Phillips. Republished with permission. © 2016 Fisher & Phillips. All rights reserved.

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