State senator proposes more pragmatic minimum wage reform

Michael Dembrow suggests splitting the state up to account for cost-of-living before hiking wage floor.

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Oregon Sen. Michael Dembrow has suggested splitting the state up to account for cost-of-living before hiking the wage floor.

Under his proposal, the state would have three minimum wages with the Portland area having the highest, midsize counties (like those in the Willamette Valley) would be in the middle and small towns would likely see little difference.

Midsize cities such as Bend, Ashland, Medford and Hood River, would probably land in the middle tier, Dembrow said in an interview.

Dembrow said he hasn’t decided on dollar amounts. The goal, he said, is to find a compromise that accounts for cost-of-living differences.

“All of this is in process and under negotiation, include the rates and just how quickly regions increase their wages,” Dembrow said. “The goal here is to do the most good, to get workers out of poverty while minimizing impact on businesses as much as possible.”


Through following this issue as it evolves and becomes more prevalent in the public discussion, two issues have become blatantly obvious: Wages in Portland are not keeping pace with housing and an increasing cost of living; and that Eastern Oregon economies could not bear a $15-minimum wage. This should be a constructive step toward solving both of those issues.

RELATED NEWS: DHM Research poll: Oregonians support $15 minimum wageCity Club endorses higher minimum wage in Portland


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