2012 Election Woes: Wages Haven’t Budged Since Obama Took Office

Salary stagnation might become a hot topic in the 2012 election

As the 2012 election heats up, one topic that is starting to trend on the campaign trail is that of salary stagnation. Since President Obama took office, wages haven’t exactly gone up or down – they’ve stayed exactly the same, which might end up being worse for Big-O as Mitt Romney increases his attacks on the president’s economic policies.

“It’s unprecedented how modest the wage gains have been over this recovery,” said Sherry Cooper, chief economist and executive vice president at the BMO Financial Group. “It’s painful for consumers and detrimental for labor.”

Politico notes that the average hourly wage only went up a meager 42 cents to $23.41 since 2008. High unemployment does not bode well for Obama either, and wages probably won’t go up any until that rate comes down 2 or 3 points from its current 8.2%. Though it’s much-ado-about-nothing in the campaign right now, it might become a major factor as Mitt Romney continues to point to Obama’s economic policies as justification to make Big-O a one-term prez.

Romney has already been hard at work tearing down Obama before he even gets a chance to speak. Earlier, he said that “You’re going to see him change course when he speaks tomorrow, where he will acknowledge that it isn’t going so well,” adding, “My own view is that he will speak eloquently, but that words are cheap,” regarding Thursday’s Cleveland speech.

The fallout over wages may be, in part, Obama’s own doing. Since his now-infamous “the private sector is doing fine” comments, more attention is being paid to exactly how the private sector is doing. Obama back-tracked these comments, but it may be too late. “Maybe he can ask families whose household income dropped $4,300 if they’re ‘doing fine,’” read a campaign email on Saturday.

The moderate approach? This really isn’t about how we got here as much as it’s about how we’ll get out of it. Many economists are saying that it’ll take years before Americans see an increase in wages, regardless of who is president. Unemployment almost has to come down on its own to what is considered a “natural rate” of 5 or 6 percent.

What does this mean? Whether it’s Obama 2012 or Romney 2012, don’t hold your breath.