I think things are improving, gas prices have gone down and food prices depending where you shop are stable. You can shop in discount places and coupons are more accepted and no longer a stigma. As for wages, that is a company issue, they decide how much to pay and how much profit they want to make. Each state has it's own laws, so it's hard to be broad about things, but a minimum wage is a pro, but a con, when people say it will stop people hiring and increase costs. I don't understand why people don't want their fellow human citizens to make a decent wage so they can eat and clothe themselves?
You look at a company that can afford to pay more than the minimum wage, but chooses not to, to make more profit. That's not something the government can do anything about, but has to come form the morals of companies.