Calling Oregon a “trailblazer” for passing a bill that will institute the highest minimum wage in the country overlooks the consequences of embarking on such a path (“Oregon lawmakers approve landmark minimum wage increase,” Philly.com, Thursday).
Oregon has long had one of the highest minimum wages in the country, and its least skilled job seekers have suffered as a result. Last year, for example, the state’s youth unemployment rate of 22.2 percent was more than five percentage points higher than the national number; at the depths of the recession, the state’s teens faced an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent.
Economists at the University of Oregon found that the state’s higher minimum wage generated “consistently negative” effects on employment in the restaurant industry. Raising the state’s minimum wage further will compound this damage.