Minimum Wage: Nationally, and in Oregon
Pros and Cons of Minimum Wage Laws
Minimum wage remains the topic of continuous economic debates. The majority of teenagers might think that the higher minimum wages, the better they are. Objective economic research refutes this idea. Economists lack any unilateral decision on whether minimum wages positively or negatively impact our economy. It appears that minimum wage laws can cause employment misbalance in the economy. Very often, minimal wage laws can “cause fewer jobs to exist than would be the case without them” (Joint Economic Committee). This is partially true; outsourcing is just one example of how businesses feel about minimum wage: “when you force American companies to pay a certain wage, you increase the likelihood that those companies will outsource jobs to foreign workers, where labor is much cheaper” (Messerli). Outsourcing has already turned into the instrument of cutting salary expenses in large multinational corporations. Of course, cheaper labor benefits American businesses, shareholders, and ultimately, consumers, but what about the American workers? At the low end of the food chain, Americans lose their jobs forever, and minimum wage laws can potentially worsen the situation. In the international business market, minimum wage laws deprive U.S. companies of opportunities to compete globally: in the long-run, minimum wage is a competitive advantage which foreign companies use to penetrate into the U.S. business market (Messerli). However, minimum wage creates better economic and social conditions for poorer social population strata. Minimum wage laws do not let businesses abuse the employment market (Messerli). Minimum wages make businesses share their wealth with workers. Ultimately, “the higher incomes of those with jobs offset the lower incomes of those without jobs, as a result of minimum wage” (Joint Economic Committee).
Minimum Wage Policy: Is Oregon on the Right Track?
The U.S. Department of Labor provides full information about minimum wage rates in each American State. Currently, the basic minimum wage in Oregon is $7.95 per hour (U.S. Department of Labor). This rate is officially adjusted to the inflation on the annual basis. Moreover, employees in Oregon have the right for premium pay after 10 hours a day “in nonfarm canneries, driers, or packing plants and in mills, etc” (U.S. Department of Labor). Compared to other U.S. states, minimal wages in Oregon are very high: in comparison, minimal wage rate in Nevada is $6.33, in Minnesota – $6.15; in Puerto-Rico – $4.10; and in Kansas – $2.65. In California, Massachusetts, and Washington minimal wage rates reach $8.00 per hour (U.S. Department of Labor). The natural question is whether Oregon is on the right track? Yes, it is, and there are several reasons for that. First, employees require official guaranteed minimal amount of pay for the work they do. Out of 1,733,900 nonfarm employed Oregon citizens, 1,433,400 work in private business (Olmis). Minimum wage laws guarantee that private employers will not abuse their workers and will regularly pay the salary which allows covering the basic living expenses. Second, the structure of Oregon’s labor market suggests that “during recessions, fewer people voluntarily leave their jobs since opportunities elsewhere are diminished” (Ayre). As more people will make everything possible to keep their jobs, business owners will have more opportunities to discriminate employees. Here, minimal wage laws provide workers with sufficient financial protection at workplace. Although higher minimum wages can increase unemployment in the long-run, the state has not yet invented any reliable system of social protection other than the system of minimal wages. Minimal wages offer substantial benefits to Oregon employees: under the growing pressures of economic recession, minimal wages keep Oregon workers above the poverty line, and make their ends meet.
Ayre, A. “Understanding Oregon’s Labor Force.” 2008. Oregon Employment Department. 03
June 2008. http://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/ArticleReader?itemid=00005834
Joint Economic Committee. 1995. “50 Years of Research on the Minimum Wage.” 03 June
Messerli, J. “Should the Minimum Wage Be Abolished (i.e. Reduced to $0.00)?” 2008.
BalancedPolitics.org. 03 June 2008. http://www.balancedpolitics.org/minimum_wage.htm
Olmis. “Oregon Nonfarm Employment.” 2008. Oregon Employment Department. 03 June
U.S. Department of Labor. “Minimum Wage Laws in the United States – January 1, 2008.”
2008. U.S. Department of Labor. 03 June 2008. http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/America.htm