Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was part of a group of governors in Washington, D.C., today to meet with President Barack Obama. While the conversation supposedly stressed bipartisan cooperation, Jindal wasted no time criticizing the president afterward. His comments did not make much sense.
"The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy," he said outside of the White House. "I think we can do better than that. I think America can do better than that."
Obama had spoken to the governors about raising the minimum wage, but it's unclear what Jindal exactly meant by "minimum wage economy." Maybe he was confused it with "part-time economy," a common Republican criticism of Obama's policies that has no basis in fact. I left a message with his press office asking for further clarification, but have not heard back yet. If Jindal meant to argue that more and more workers are earning the minimum wage under Obama, he's wrong.
Here's a graph of the number of minimum wage workers over the past 10 years:
During the end of the Bush administration and start of Obama's first term, the number of minimum wage workers rose dramatically. Of course, the financial crisis may have had something to do with that. Since then, the number of minimum wage workers has fallen over time.
What about the number of minimum wage workers as a percentage of workers who are paid at hourly rates? Maybe there are fewer minimum wage workers, but they represent a greater share of that workforce?
I don't know what exactly Jindal meant by his "minimum wage economy" quip, but Obama has not presided over some vast expansion of workers making the minimum wage. And the Louisiana governor should know what a "minimum wage economy" looks like. After all, his state has the fourth highest percentage of minimum wage workers.
Danny Vinik is a staff writer at The New Republic.