From presidential candidates to the local races, the focus of the United States’ 2012 elections was jobs and taxation, especially raising taxes on the rich, while the critical issue of raising the minimum wage was a non-issue in campaign speeches.
Finding a minimum-wage job means nothing if that wage–currently set by the federal government at $7.25 an hour, or $290 for a 40-hour week–cannot support a family of three. In fact, there are no states in the US where the minimum wage will pay for a two-bedroom apartment. At no point since the ‘80s has the minimum wage been able to keep a family of three above the poverty level.
That most people don’t know this is the fault not only of politicians but of the media. The only salary stories that seem to get coverage is how much CEOs make, but these stories rarely reflect how much more the CEOs make than their employees, and how service industries such as restaurants pay employees even less than minimum wage.
Instead of focusing on these systemic problems, the media continue to castigate the Affordable Care Act for its claimed costs to small businesses. Coverage of the insufficient minimum wage tends to be left to the op-ed page, if it’s present at all.
Clawson, Laura. “Raising the minimum wage: The right thing to do, and a winning issue, too.” Daily Kos. April 10, 2012. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/10/1082206/-Raising-the-minimum-wage-The-right-thing-to-do-and-a-winning-issue-too
Riley, Theresa. “Making the Rent on Minimum Wage.” BillMoyers.com. April 2, 2012. http://billmoyers.com/2012/04/02/making-the-rent-on-minimum-wage/
“History of the Federal Minimum Wage.” FinancialRamblings.com. Sept. 17, 2012. http://www.financialramblings.com/archives/history-of-federal-minimum-wage-rate/
National Employment Law Project. “Raise the Minimum Wage.” Accessed Dec. 6, 2012. http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com
“The Federal Minimum Wage: Looking Back over Time.” FiveCentNickel.com. July 25, 2008. http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2008/07/25/the-federal-minimum-wage-looking-back-over-time/
Condon, Bernard, and Christina Rexrode. “American CEOs hauled in record pay in 2011.” Associated Press via MSNBC. May 25, 2012. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47565818/ns/business-us_business/t/american-ceos-hauled-record-pay
Student Researcher: Chris Ullery, Frostburg State University
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan, Frostburg State University