Rural Oregon’s economy is a priority for the 2015 state legislature, but the bills and policies being introduced are contradictory to Rural Oregon’s success.
A $15/hour minimum wage and that ALL employers provide PAID sick leave for employees are currently on the legislative docket. These policies do not coincide with Rural Oregon needs. We need jobs not feel good policy.
Oregon ranks 46th in the nation for unemployment at 7%. North Dakota ranks first. At least we are in the top 50, right?
Oregon has at least four rural counties with unemployment over 10%. Yet, Oregon legislators want to burden us with increased labor costs of workers that we are barely able to hire currently. Increasing an employers’ expenses does not create jobs it costs them.
Real Life: If minimum wage increased to $15/hour our harvest employee costs would at the very least increase 150%. If the government wants to dictate that we spend more money than instead of increasing the wage to an unsustainable level we could re-invest into the farm. We could rent more acres and/or hire 2-4 more employees at the current entry-level wage. More jobs equals more opportunities for all.
Would the Oregon legislature rather have more people working or less people working?
We value employees with initiative, loyalty, knowledge and sense of responsibility. As an employee grows and develops these skills we often increase wages. A $15/hour minimum wage would make it impossible for us to do this. We depend on experienced employees and because of this we would risk losing quality employees because they have no incentive to stay.
I am glad the legislature wants to focus some time and energy on Rural Oregon’s issues and economy. However increased regulation is hurting Rural Oregon’s ability to thrive. When your livelihood depends on the pennies per pound, every cent matters.