Fourteen bills have been introduced in the Oregon legislature to raise Oregon’s already high minimum wage or let localities do so. Apparently, some legislators believe that political laws can override the laws of economics.
In this case, the law of supply and demand tells us that raising the price of labor will lead employers to demand less of it. Those hurt will likely be less skilled, younger, and less educated workers who will find it harder to find jobs or will be let go from jobs they did have at lower wages.
Not exactly the outcome proponents foretell, but they may be OK with it because those harmed by their policy aren’t likely to blame them. They’re more likely to blame the employers who let them go or don’t hire them in the first place.
Proponents know that they have little to lose and much to gain politically by telling workers that they deserve to be paid more, and that it’s only greedy business owners standing between them and the higher wages they desire.
If legislators don’t commit the folly of increasing the minimum wage this year, a union backed group has filed an initiative to raise it from the current $9.25 up to $15 per hour. That will give voters the opportunity next year to commit the folly themselves.
Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy think tank.