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Oregon Universities Hit Hard by Minimum Wage Hike

Now that the Oregon legislature has hiked the minimum wage, effective this July, colleges and universities in the state have a decision to make: hire fewer student employees, cut the school’s budget, or raise tuition.

The hike in wages entails a new minimum wage of $9.75 an hour. By 2022, that salary will be forced upward to $14.75 an hour within Portland’s urban area, $13.50 in midsize counties, and $12.50 in rural areas.

Portland State, which will owe $13 million in by 2019, will lose roughly $2.5 million more because of the wage hike. They will address the problem through budget cuts and a probable tuition hike, Suzanne Pardington Effros, PSU spokeswoman, acknowledged, saying, “We anticipate we will address these [wages] through budget cuts and increased revenue.”

At the University of Oregon, where tuition was hiked 4.8 percent for the 2016-17 school year, the school will lose $432,779 due to the minimum wage hike. By 2019, that number would mushroom to $2.3 million in additional wages. By 2021, the number would soar to $3.4 — and by 2023, over $6.1 million.

At Oregon State University, which employs over 7,800 students, the amount owed for extra wages could reach $4.8 million. Steve Clark, Oregon State University’s spokesman, said the school might cut student jobs by 650 to 700 positions.

Western Oregon, which employs roughly 886 students, will owe almost $450,000 in the next biennium due to the wage hike; Southern Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology would owe roughly $300,000, while Eastern Oregon would owe its workers $162,907.

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