The Republican Senate candidate in Arkansas, Tom Cotton, levied a powerful accusation against his opponent, Senator Mark Pryor, and President Barack Obama on Friday. "But as Arkansas' next U.S. senator,” Cotton said, “I'm going to make sure we have a healthy economy. Not the kind of minimum wage economy that Mark Pryor and Barack Obama have created."
Wait. I feel like I’ve heard that criticism of Obama before. Oh right—Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal leveled it against the president back in February. "The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy," he said then. "I think we can do better than that. I think America can do better than that."
A “minimum wage” economy sounds pretty terrible—especially when one party refuses to raise it. Here’s the problem: Jindal and Cotton are entirely wrong. Here’s the number of minimum wage workers in the U.S. from 2002 through 2013:
You can see how the number of minimum wage workers in the U.S. skyrockets during the Obama presidency. Oh wait, that's wrong. The exact opposite happened. What about the number of minimum wage workers as a percentage of total hourly workers? That’s been falling too:
Of course, Obama cannot take credit for the reduction in minimum wage workers. The Great Recession was undoubtedly a major cause of that. Minimum wage workers were laid off. That’s not a good thing—it’s better to earn the minimum wage than no wage at all. But it’s ridiculous to assert that Obama has created a “minimum wage” economy. That’s simply not true.