USA Today Pumps Up Inflation Fears, Downplays Strong Wage Growth

    Wages are growing at the fastest pace since the last election year, but USA Today spun that news negatively in its November 1 paper. Instead, readers got a unhealthy dose of inflation worries.


    “Ask most economists about inflation, and they’ll tell you it’s low. Ask the average consumer, and you might get a very different answer,” writer John Waggoner began his Money section cover story.


     “Sure, you can get a lot of computer these days for your dollar. And auto prices have scarcely budged,” he added, but then complained that “several big-ticket middle-class basics” like energy, housing, health care, and a college education “have vastly outstripped the overall inflation rate in the past two decades.”


    Nowhere in his story, however, did Waggoner explore the impact that government regulation and third-party payer schemes likes health insurance and college loans have on spiking the cost of energy and housing or health care and education respectively.


    What’s more, even a liberal pundit cited in Waggoner’s story gave a bit of historical perspective to the cost and standard of living in modern America.


    “Looking back” with nostalgia “to a golden age of the middle class doesn’t wash,” the USA Today reporter wrote, citing Jason Furman of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Overall health care is better now, for example, and far fewer people a generation ago expected to go to college,” Waggoner conceded.


    In other words Americans are healthier and better educated than ever before and with those benefits comes some added costs. Far from rampant inflation, it’s a reasonable price to pay for the quality of living in the United States.


     Yet Sue Kirchoff’s take on rising wages on page 2B continued the song and dance. And it certainly wasn’t “Happy Days Are Here Again.”


     “Workers’ wages and benefits rose this summer at the quickest pace since early 2004,” she noted, citing a government report released on Halloween. “But economists are divided about whether the gains will continue or diminish,” she added before quoting economist Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute.    


     Kirchoff added a rebuttal to Bernstein from Wachovia’s Gina Martin, who insisted “Compensation costs are clearly on an uptrend.” But Kirchoff then turned back to casting a pall on the economy, citing a dip in manufacturing, retail sales, and consumer confidence. She then noted that “Sluggish wage growth has become a political issue” with minimum wage measure on ballot initiatives in several states.