Fox News cited a study by a lobbying group with ties to the fast food industry to push debunked myths on the effects of raising the minimum wage, ignoring a wealth of economic evidence showing that increasing the minimum wage has little to no effect on employment.
On December 5, fast food workers went on strike across the nation to protest for higher pay. The December 5 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto ran a segment covering the protests, with reporter David Lee Miller claiming that "according to one university study, hiking the minimum wage - the federal minimum wage - would cost nearly half a million jobs."
The "university study" that Miller references is ostensibly a December 5 study by the Employment Policies Institute, a lobbying group with ties to the fast food industry. The Institute has a track record of using misleading studies to claim a minimum wage increase would hurt the economy. In fact, considerable economic evidence shows that living wage bills and raising the minimum wage have little to no effect on employment.
In a March 2011 report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) concluded that wage increases are more likely to have a positive effect on employment. The Center for American Progress Action Fund found a growing consensus among economists and academics that raising wages results in higher pay without job loss, even during periods of recession. Finally, the Economic Policy Institute (not to be confused with the corporate-backed group cited by Miller) conducted a comprehensive analysis of how living wage laws affected businesses, finding "there have been either no or only small employment losses as a result of adopting living wages."
The segment also featured a prerecorded interview with Richard Berman, the executive director of the Center for Union Facts, an anti-union lobbying group. Berman dismissed the necessity of raising the minimum wage for fast food workers, saying, "you can't just translate your need for more money onto every business and say you know, I've got three kids to feed so you need to pay me more. That's not how the compensation system works in this country." Host Neil Cavuto failed to note that Berman also holds positions in several other industry-funded organizations, including the Employment Policies Institute and the American Beverage Institute. According to CBS News:
[Berman] has come up with a clever system of non-profit educational entities. Companies can make charitable donations to these groups, which have names like Center for Consumer Freedom and Center for Union Facts. They are neutral sounding but "educating," with a particular point of view, all perfectly legal."
Who are the companies that support Berman?
"The food industry, the beverage industry, alcoholic beverage industry, the restaurant industry's a major supporter. He doesn't disclose the names of his funders," Jacobson says.
Fox's inaccurate coverage of the fast food worker strikes continues their longstanding history of misinforming on the minimum wage. Perhaps Fox should follow the example of other networks that have considered the struggle that fast food workers face in their daily living when reporting on low-wage workers.