Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment

Issues ››› Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
  • Wall Street Journal Claims Raising The Minimum Wage Leads To “Fewer Opportunities” For Working Families

    Editorial Board Distorts Research Conclusions To Fit Anti-Minimum Wage Narrative

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal bizarrely claimed the idea of raising minimum wages had been “thoroughly dismantled” after a study found Seattle low-wage jobs grew by only 99 percent as much as the study’s model predicted would have been the case if the city had not raised the municipal minimum wage.

    In an August 14 editorial, the Journal claimed that raising the minimum wage would lead to “fewer opportunities” for working families, citing a report from researchers at the University of Washington that found low-wage employment grew by one percentage point less than the researchers predicted had the city not raised wages. The report looked at economic growth in Seattle since it raised the local minimum wage to $11 per hour in April 2015, as part of the city’s gradual phase-in of a $15 per hour minimum wage. The Journal cited the report as evidence that “Seattle’s increase last year seems to be reducing employment,” dismissing that the same researchers found that the Seattle economy saw a “boom in job growth” over the last 18 months. The Journal also misleadingly claimed that “only 73 cents” of the recorded wage growth experienced by low-income workers from 2014 through 2015 was “owed to the minimum wage.” Median wages for low-wage workers increased from $9.96 per hour to $11.14 per hour over that time frame, meaning the vast majority of the wage increase -- roughly 62 percent -- was the result of the minimum wage ordinance alone. From The Wall Street Journal:

    Few ideas have been so thoroughly dismantled by reality as minimum-wage laws, which price some jobs out of existence and some workers out of jobs. Yet progressives keep expecting different results, and on Thursday Hillary Clinton endorsed a national increase. So let’s check in on the latest experiment: Seattle’s increase last year seems to be reducing employment.

    That’s the finding of a new report by researchers at the University of Washington. The study compared nine months of 2015 in Seattle, where the wage is ticking up gradually and hit $13 an hour in January, with similar areas elsewhere in Washington. The authors produced a statistical model to figure out what Seattle would have looked like if the city’s planners hadn’t increased the wage floor.

    The researchers found that the ordinance decreased the low-wage employment rate by about one-percentage point. Median wages went up for those who earned less than $11 an hour in 2014: to $11.14 at the end of 2015, from $9.96. Yet the study notes that only an estimated 73 cents of the increase is owed to the minimum wage.


    None of this will surprise anyone who understands that increasing the cost of something will reduce the demand for it. Then again, that concept seems to elude both major presidential candidates, who have floated national minimum-wage increases. The results will be the same as in Seattle: Fewer opportunities for the people the law is intended to help.

    When the University of Washington study was first reported by local Seattle outlets they touted the report as evidence the city’s economy is booming despite the minimum wage increase. Contrary to the Journal’s right-wing spin, The Seattle Times stated the report showed the wage increase had “little impact” on the labor market and that the “city’s job-growth rate has been triple the national average.” Meanwhile, Seattle Weekly used the report to debunk conservative predictions that the increase “would ‘devastate’ small businesses” and harm low-wage workers.

    While the Journal falsely claimed the report proved right-wing media talking points against raising minimum wages, the researchers actually warned readers “to not interpret these results as likely to be generalizable,” cautioning that “these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s increase to a wage of $11/hour” because it will take many years for the full effects to be seen. The researchers also stated that “given the lack of standard errors in this draft, some caution should be used in confidently asserting that the Minimum Wage Ordinance caused an impact of a particular size.” In an August 10 op-ed in The Washington Post, economist Jared Bernstein found this lack of standard errors in the model a “limitation” and noted that economist Michael Reich found the calculations were “not distinguishable from zero” -- making the one percent difference between the city’s experimental and actual job growth possibly negligible.

    It is important to note the university report did not find that the minimum wage increase itself was responsible for Seattle’s recent economic boom. Nevertheless, the report follows a trend of positive economic data out of Seattle, including research from Automatic Data Processing (ADP), which found that from mid-2014 to the end of 2015, “the Seattle labor market was exceptionally strong” and the city’s “job growth rate tripled the national average.”

    Right-wing media are staunchly opposed to increasing the minimum wage at the local, state, and federal level and are dedicated to promoting the myth that wage increases result in job losses, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.

  • Economists And Experts Trash Trump’s “Nonsense” Supply-Side Economic Plan


    Economists and tax policy experts from across the political spectrum slammed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rewritten tax and economic policy proposals, which he unveiled during an August 8 speech at the Detroit Economic Club. Fact-checkers and journalists had already heavily criticized the speech for being “detail-devoid” and “short on specifics.”

  • NY Post Columnist Fearmongers About Recession While Backing Trump Plan That Would Create One

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    New York Post columnist and Donald Trump supporter Betsy McCaughey pointed to findings from Moody’s Analytics to claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s economic plan would dampen economic growth and job creation. McCaughey attempted to argue that Trump’s plan would help the economy, but she neglected to mention that Moody’s actually predicted Clinton’s plan would generate millions of new jobs and spur economic growth while Trump’s plan would cost jobs and likely lead to a recession.

  • How Donald Trump Dominated Fox News' Coverage Of The Economy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to Media Matters’ ongoing quarterly analyses of prime-time weekday cable news coverage of the economy, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was by far the most frequently featured guest during economic news segments in the first half of 2016. Trump used an apparent standing invitation for interviews from Fox News to fill the airwaves with misleading claims about the supposedly poor state of the economy, while dubiously promising to boost economic growth and job creation through trickle-down tax cuts and restrictions on free trade.

    In the first and second quarters of 2016, Trump has been a featured guest during a cable prime-time segment focused on economic news and policy 40 times. Trump’s presence on television dwarfed appearances by Sen. Ted Cruz (20) and Gov. John Kasich (10) -- his rivals for the GOP nomination -- as well as Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (9) and Hillary Clinton (4):

    Trump’s cable news dominance is mostly a product of Fox News favoritism, where he has appeared 36 times in the past six months -- 18 times in each quarter. During that period, Fox News aired 175 segments dedicated to the economy, and Trump appeared as a guest in over 20 percent of them. All of Trump’s appearances came during interviews on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity:

    Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have come under heavy scrutiny for the lavish amount of airtime they give Trump. Hannity has served as the poster boy of Fox News’ embrace of the GOP nominee, leading to him being ridiculed as a Trump “fanboy” for his fawning over the candidate. O'Reilly’s softball interviews have also been seen as embarrassing for the network, leading to accusations that Fox News lacks journalistic integrity and is merely backing Trump to boost ratings. New York magazine correspondent Gabe Sherman reported on May 17 that, "According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs.”

    With Trump being treated with kid-gloves by Hannity and O'Reilly, he was able to use his airtime to push his extreme and unworkable right-wing agenda. Trump’s claims have received criticism from across the political spectrum; conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 for his simplistic look at global commerce, which he called “a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel.

    Fox’s coverage of Donald Trump has been so biased it received special attention from Jon Stewart during a guest hosting appearance on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stewart took aim at Hannity -- referring to him only as “Lumpy” -- for his blatant hypocrisy in supporting Trump. This obvious turn around led Stewart to lament that "I’m sure it’s easy for people without ethics or principles to embrace someone who embodies everything that they said they hated about the previous president for the past eight years":

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Lauds U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Fight For Equal Pay

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post editorial board highlighted the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s effort to fight “discouraging” gender pay inequality as the 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro.

    In March, five members of the women’s soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The action cited figures showing that, despite generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team and having more success in the World Cup, the women were paid four times less than the men. Right-wing media criticized the action, claiming the pay gap could be attributed to men’s sports being “more interesting” and falsely claiming the women’s team doesn’t “bring in much revenue.” Conservative media repeatedly downplayed soccer’s gender pay disparity even before the complaint, claiming women’s soccer had smaller viewership.

    In an August 4 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board highlighted how the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s “most recent quest for Olympic gold” in Rio de Janeiro coincides with the team’s campaign for equal pay. The board explained that the women’s team “brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million,” and urged the men’s team to “put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.” The board wrote the pay gap was “discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.” From the editorial:

    ON WEDNESDAY, the highly decorated U.S. women’s national soccer team began its most recent quest for Olympic gold, but that’s not the only contest its members face. The players recently launched a public campaign for equal pay, using their widely followed social media platforms to advertise gender inequities the U.S. Soccer Federation chooses to ignore.


    By taking their fight public, the women should generate more interest — especially if the team adds another gold medal to its collection in Rio de Janeiro. But that may not be enough to tip the scales. Although the federation says it strongly supports women’s soccer, its president, Sunil Gulati, has yet to appear at a bargaining session. Perhaps the U.S. men’s team members could put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.

    Unequal pay for female athletes is often attributed to lower revenue production. That’s the case in professional soccer, where National Women’s Soccer League salaries are embarrassingly low because the league lacks the ticket sales Major League Soccer enjoys. However, the narrative changes with America’s international soccer teams. Not only is the U.S. women’s team the most dominant team in the history of its sport, but it also brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million. In the next fiscal year, the women are projected to generate $8.5 million more than the men. Though the federation argues that the U.S. men’s national team made more than the women did in past years, thus meriting the men’s higher per-match compensation, the federation did not reverse the practice when the women’s earnings surpassed those of the men.

    Further, unlike with the professional leagues, the national teams share a single employer — U.S. Soccer. According to Jeffrey Kessler, the players’ attorney: “One employer may not discriminate between its male and female employees under the law. Legally, they are required to provide equal pay for equal work.”

    The U.S. Soccer Federation’s failure to close the wage gap — a familiar reality for women of all vocations — is discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.

  • STUDY: Brexit Crisis Forces Cable And Broadcast News To Host Economists

    Economists Made Up More Than 7 Percent Of Guests In The Second Quarter Of 2016


    Economic news in the second quarter of 2016 bore striking similarities to trends established in the first quarter, as the presidential candidates’ economic platforms increasingly shaped the news. Coverage of inequality slipped from a high point last quarter, but the unprecedented economic crisis created by the United Kingdom’s so-called “Brexit” referendum did boost participation from economists to the highest point ever recorded by Media Matters.

  • WSJ Op-Ed Bizarrely Claims Lifting Wages Will Increase Teenage Crime

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Repeatedly discredited anti-minimum-wage researchers took to The Wall Street Journal opinion pages to claim raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania would lead to job losses and force teenagers to “seek income elsewhere” by taking up a life of crime. The authors failed to mention research demonstrating no relationship between raising the minimum wage and job losses, nor did they mention that teenagers make up less than 20 percent of minimum wage workers.