Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment

Issues ››› Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
  • Fox & Friends Follows Conservative Playbook To Spin GDP Report, Mislead On Obama’s Economic Record

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    On the April 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney joined co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, and Steve Doocy for a segment slamming President Obama’s record on the economy. The segment was a response to Obama’s recent interview with The New York Times, during which the president discussed how markedly the economy has improved since 2008 and what he hopes will be his economic legacy. The segment seemed to unwittingly mirror the right-wing playbook for downplaying positive economic gains during Democratic administrations by relying on false conservative talking points to dismiss economic growth and tout failed tax policies:

    Fox’s 3 Percent Growth Target Is Arbitrary And Ignores American History

    The segment opened with Kilmeade and Varney making the false claim that Obama is “the only U.S. president who could not deliver a single year of three percent growth.” It is not clear why Fox News is fixated on growing the economy at an average rate of three percent annually. Regardless, Kilmeade’s claim that Obama is “the only” president not to clear that bar is false.

    According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which only has consistent annual data from 1930 to the present, Republican president Herbert Hoover didn’t just fail to hit three percent growth, he failed to hit zero percent growth. The economy contracted at a rate of -8.5 percent in 1930, -6.4 percent in 1931, a staggering -12.9 percent in 1932, and -1.3 percent in 1933. The contraction in 1933 may have been greater, had Franklin Delano Roosevelt not replaced Hoover in the White House in March of that year, initiating substantial government stimulus projects known as the New Deal. Reliable GDP estimates prior to 1930 are difficult to find, but those data that are available show four consecutive Republican presidents overseeing economic growth of less than 2 percent from 1871 to 1885. Over the course of the next 45 years the economy swung wildly between boom and bust cycles, including several deep depressions, before the Great Depression and FDR’s subsequent creation of oversight mechanisms that work to maintain relative economic stability.

    Varney Consistently Misleads On The Economy

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney is supposed to be a serious voice for analysis and expertise at the network, but Varney is a serial minformer, who creates confusion on economic issues.

    In November 2014, Varney predicted that a Republican takeover of the Senate would usher in an era of “3 to 4 percent” growth, which he now complains hasn’t happened. The economy grew at a 2.4 percent pace in 2014, and continued to grow at a rate of 2.4 percent after the GOP took over complete control of Congress in 2015. Yesterday, when the Commerce Department figures were first released, Varney wondered if the economy growing at a slightly slower rate than experts had predicted was proof that we are “sliding toward recession” -- his comments came just moments after an actual economist was on CNBC debunking the idea.

    In the past week, Varney has attacked impoverished children for soaking up too many government benefits and watched idly as an economist easily debunked conservative demands for more tax cuts and deregulation to spur the economy. Since the start of the year Varney has been an unceasing source of misinformation on the minimum wage, has misled on the funding structures of public-sector unions, has lamented a proposal to pay people for the hours they work, and has attacked “ridiculous” anti-poverty programs that help struggling families and save taxpayers money.

    Fox News Follows The Conservative Misinformation Script To Perfection

    In an April 28 blog post, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman explained how Republicans mislead the American public about the health of the economy by ignoring positive economic trends. The focus of Waldman’s comparison was the “objective reality” of progress and areas for improvement specified by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the “laughable fantasy” of “an absolute (economic) nightmare” outlined by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, but it could have just as easily been any of the personalities at Fox News. This April 29 Fox & Friends segment that mislead on GDP is one very good example.

    In Waldman’s piece, he hit Trump for pretending tax cuts are the solution to economic growth -- they are actually a proven failure. Varney often repeats this same tax cut talking point at Fox. When Earhardt asked on Fox & Friends “what is the reason for these bad numbers” on the economy, Varney slammed “massive regulation, constant government borrowing” and “overspending to raise the debt” -- exactly the talking points for which Waldman hit Trump the day before.

  • Wash. Post Debunks Right-Wing Myth That The Gender Wage Gap Results From Women's Choices

    New Research Shows The Gender Pay Gap Is Widening For College Graduates

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The Washington Post highlighted new research demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women “start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened” among college graduates in the past year. The research debunks a claim frequently promoted by right-wing media outlets that the obvious pay discrimination faced by millions of American women is the result of their personal and professional choices.

    In an April 28 post for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, reporter Danielle Paquette highlighted research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and American Association of University Women (AAUW) demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women start as soon as students graduate from college, persist regardless of chosen career fields, and are actually worse for college graduates than for women with only a high school education. The research stands as yet more evidence against the misleading claim frequently pushed by conservative media outlets that the gender pay gap, if it exists at all, is actually the fault of women who pursue less lucrative professions and forgo career opportunities to have children and raise a family.

    From The Washington Post (emphasis added):

    Pay disparities between men and women start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened for young workers in the past year, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute.

    Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79 percent as large as those of their male peers, the think tank found -- a serious drop from 84 percent last year.

    The sudden change follows a more gradual shift. In 2000, women ages 21 to 24 with college degrees earned 92 percent of their male counterparts’ wages on average, which was unchanged from 1990.

    Regardless of their education, young women typically earn less money than young men in the United States. Female high-school graduates, ages 21 to 24, now earn an average of 92 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

    [...]

    Some have argued that the wage gap, at any stage of a woman’s life, starts with her choices. Women are more likely than men to scale back at work when they start a family, for instance. (Employers are also more likely to reward fathers and penalize mothers.) But EPI's data shows that the gender wage gap cracks open right after college graduation, well before decisions like maternity leave can affect women’s earnings.

    [...]

    A 2015 AAUW report of workers one year out of college found considerable pay differences between men and women in the same career fields.

    Women who majored in business, for example, earned an average of $38,000, while men bagged just more than $45,000. In engineering, computer and information sciences fields, young female graduates earned between 77 and 88 percent of what their male colleagues made.

    Across all fields, after controlling for major, occupation and grade-point average, the report found women still earned 7 percent less than men.

  • Fox's Varney Dubiously Claims US Is "Sliding Toward Recession" After Economy Grows Slightly Less Than Expected

    Stuart Varney: "It Is Legitimate To Use The Word Recession" Despite Seven Consecutive Quarters Of Economic Growth

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney misleadingly used the Commerce Department's most recent economic growth estimate to claim the United States is "sliding toward recession." In reality, there are many reasons to believe economic activity will pick back up in the spring and summer this year.

    On the April 28 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., Varney used the Commerce Department’s quarterly GDP report, which estimated economic expansion to be 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2016, to claim America is “sliding toward recession.” Guest Julie Roginsky attempted to correct Varney's characterization of the economy, explaining that the United States' economy is still growing and has created nearly 15 million new jobs over the course of “73 consecutive months of job growth,” but she couldn't budge the host from his talking points. Varney concluded the segment by claiming that the economy's supposed "downtrend" creates a "political problem" for Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton:

     

    The last recession, which the National Bureau of Economic Research defines as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months,” began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, first quarter economic growth has typically lagged behind growth for the rest of the year since the economy emerged from the Bush-era Great Recession:

    Varney’s warning that a recession may be imminent does not match expert analysis. On April 28, The Washington Post reported that “most analysts say that the United States faces little risk of recession.” Reuters reported that "a pick-up in activity is anticipated" in the coming months "given a buoyant labor market." In fact, while Varney was pushing his dire warning about the state of the economy, Bank of America economist Ethan Harris was on CNBC's Squawk Box explaining how one could assume a recession is happening in the first quarter of almost every year “if you don’t adjust the data,” because “the winter hits” and the “shopping season ends.” In an interview with ABC News, economist Ian Shepherdson acknowledged that the current data "looks grim, but the second quarter will be much better."

    Varney is a serial misinformer on the economy, repeatedly attempting to spin data to claim President Obama’s economic policies have failed, even though the president’s economic legacy of the last seven years shows the unemployment rate has been cut in half, annual deficits have gone down, GDP has grown, and the United States enjoyed the third-longest stock market upswing in its history. Varney’s spin on economic data has gone so far that on December 4 -- in response to a strong November jobs report that beat most economists' expectations -- he managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre," and on January 8 he downplayed the December jobs report as merely "modest" even though it was arguably the strongest jobs report of 2015.

  • Here Are The Corporations And Right-Wing Funders Backing The Education Reform Movement

    A Guide To The Funders Behind A Tangled Network Of Advocacy, Research, Media, And Profiteering That’s Taking Over Public Education

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Media Matters outlines the many overlapping connections in an echo chamber of education privatization advocacy groups, think tanks, and media outlets that are increasingly funded by a handful of conservative billionaires and for-profit education companies -- often without proper disclosure. 

  • STUDY: Cable And Broadcast News Try To Cover The Economy Without Economists

    Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.

  • Media, Experts Slam Ted Cruz’s Promise Of 5 Percent Economic Growth

    Proposed Tax Cuts Have Proved To Not Stimulate Economic Growth, Suggested Return To The Gold Standard Is Simply “Dangerous”

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) promised that if he was elected, his administration would oversee economic growth in excess of 5 percent a year stemming from reduced regulations, tax cuts for high-income earners and corporations, a balanced federal budget, and a return to the gold standard. Journalists and experts were quick to criticize Cruz’s economic growth target, which exceeds by 1 percentage point a proposal by former Republican candidate Jeb Bush that was roundly mocked as “nonsense” and “impossible” last summer.

  • NY Times Editorial Board Calls Out The “Lunacy” Of Anti-LGBT Bathroom Bills

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    For the second time in the past month, the New York Times editorial board decried the “lunacy” of anti-LGBT “bathroom bills” seeking to ban transgender people from the public bathrooms that align with their gender identity, calling on lawmakers to consider the “price of bigotry” when pushing for such legislation.  

    Last month, following a special session convened by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill (HB2) targeting the transgender community by banning people from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. The measure, which also prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, was introduced in response to a provision adopted in Charlotte expanding nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

    Proponents of the law peddled the debunked talking point that the ordinance's nondiscrimination protections for transgender people would allow male predators to enter women’s bathrooms and commit sexual assault. Responding to the law last month, the New York Times editorial board excoriated the North Carolina legislature for "spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists" to ram through an "appalling, unconstitutional bill." The board slammed the "bathroom predator" myth as a "threat [that] exists only in the imagination of bigots."

    Despite the intense backlash to HB2 and economic harm caused by the law over the past several weeks, legislators in six other states are pushing for similar laws broadly banning transgender people from restrooms. On April 18, the New York Times editorial board once again called out the “lunacy” of these laws, quoting a letter from a South Carolina sheriff with 41 years of experience in law enforcement, who called the “bathroom predator” myth a “non-issue.” The Times also highlighted the serious economic cost of “bathroom bills” and asked lawmakers to consider “the price of bigotry” when pushing for anti-LGBT legislation:

    After the withering backlash against North Carolina for passing a discriminatory law against gay and transgender people last month, it would stand to reason that lawmakers and governors in other states would think twice before peddling bills that dictate which restrooms transgender people can use.

    And yet, state legislators in Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina and Minnesota are pushing similar absurd measures. The lunacy at the heart of this demand to police every public bathroom was captured by Leon Lott, the sheriff of Richland County in South Carolina, who told state lawmakers last week that the law would be unenforceable because his officers could not be in the business of inspecting people’s genitals.

    “In the 41 years I have been in law enforcement in South Carolina, I have never heard of a transgender person attacking or otherwise bothering someone in a restroom,” Sheriff Lott wrote in a letter to the committee studying the state’s bathroom bill. “This is a non-issue.”

    Laws to address non-issues can have serious repercussions. The hastily passed bill in North Carolina, which said people must use public restrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate and prohibited local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances, has been roundly condemned by corporate leaders, civil rights groups and religious leaders.

    The law cost the state hundreds of jobs after PayPal scrapped plans to open a global hub in Charlotte and Deutsche Bank suspended plans to expand its operations in the state. Executives from 80 major companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook, wrote a letter to the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, urging repeal of the law, arguing that it would make it “far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers.”

                […]

    Despite what supporters of these laws might claim, the measures do nothing to make restrooms safer. They will only further stigmatize and endanger people who already face systemic discrimination. If lawmakers who might want to follow North Carolina’s abhorrent example aren’t moved by appeals to equality and human rights, they should ponder this reality: The price of bigotry is becoming quite steep.

  • Fox Business Turns To Restaurant Executives To Attack Fight For $15 Demonstrations

    Fox’s Stuart Varney Continues Promoting Minimum Wage Myths

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business dedicated multiple segments this morning to criticizing low-wage workers taking part in living wage demonstrations around the country. The segments almost exclusively featured minimum wage opponents, and continued Fox’s heavy reliance on restaurant executives who peddle misinformation about the supposed negative consequences of paying employees minimum wages of $15 per hour.

    On the April 14th edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney repeatedly assailed low-wage restaurant, homecare, and university workers who are taking part in nationwide demonstrations organized by the Fight for $15. Over the course of six segments, Varney was joined by numerous guests who attacked the protesters for demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage, and pushed frequently debunked myths that increased wages would destroy jobs and hurt business. On two occasions, Varney allowed restaurant executives -- White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson and Bennigan’s CEO Paul Mangiamele -- to claim that increased wages would actually hurt workers:

    Fox has repeatedly pushed myths that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. Varney is a serial misinformer on the minimum wage, and his decision to elevate anti-living wage talking points from industry executives fits a long-standing trend at his sister network.

    Contrary to Fox Business' claims that minimum wage workers will move up to better jobs quickly, a July 2013 study from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) found entry-level workers are “going nowhere fast” because low-wage restaurants offered little room for promotion -- and an April 2016 report from NELP happens to credit the Fight for $15 with successfully raising wages for 17 million American workers since 2012. Contrary to claims that business owners oppose raising the minimum wage, The Washington Post reported on April 4 that a leaked poll from Republican pollster Frank Luntz found "80 percent of respondents [business executives] said they supported raising their state's minimum wage." Economists have repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs, and researchers at Cornell University argued that since minimum wage increase have "not had large or reliable effects" on restaurant and hospitality industry employment, minimum wage opponents would be better off embracing “reasonable” increases.

  • Print Coverage Of The Gender Pay Gap Glosses Over Disproportionate Effects On Minority Groups

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    In their coverage of the gender pay gap during the week leading up to Equal Pay Day, print versions of three major newspapers largely failed to note that wage disparities are particularly acute for women of color and transgender women. Only one-third of the coverage pointed out that the pay gap is larger for women of color, and the coverage omitted any discussion of the pay gap faced by LGBT women.

    Equal Pay Day, which fell this year on April 12, marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year. Studies show that women make significantly less money than men over their lifetimes -- on average, a woman in the United States in 2014 made 79 cents for every dollar a man made -- but the gap can increase when other variables are factored in. Research from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress demonstrates that disparities are larger for women of color. On average, African-American women earn 60 percent as much as their white male counterparts, and Latinas earn just 55 percent of what white men earn. A recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that location, age, and education level all factor into pay disparity, and that at every level of academic achievement, women earn less than men.

    Media Matters analyzed pay gap coverage during the week prior to Equal Pay Day in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and found that the Post and the Journal each published two articles in print about the gender pay gap, and in each paper only once mentioned race and ethnicity as a factor in pay disparities. The Times, which also printed two articles about the pay gap, failed to mention race at all. The impact of the wage gap on LGBT women was not addressed at all in the analyzed coverage.

    LGBT women are invisible in coverage of the wage gap, despite the specific impact pay disparity has on them. Experts say that LGBT people -- specifically transgender women -- are more likely to be discriminated against in the workforce and, according to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, policy advisor for the National Center for Transgender Equality, the issues surrounding wage disparity "are heightened for transgender people."

    Methodology

    Media Matters analyzed pay disparity-related coverage from April 5 to April 12 -- the week leading up to and including Equal Pay Day -- on the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post using the following search terms on Nexis and Factiva: "equal pay," "wage gap," "gender pay gap," "pay discrimination," "Latinas," "Hispanic," "Black," "women of color," "LGBT," "GLBT," "LGBTQ," "trans," "transgender," "gay," "lesbian," and "queer." Articles with incidental mentions of the wage gap or of pay discrimination outside of the United States were excluded.