CONROE, TX — During the Obama Presidency, economic experts told us that the stagnation we experienced in the American economy was the “new normal,” and we just needed to get used to it.
I always rejected that notion because I believe in the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people. The problem was that the federal government was getting in the way with high taxes and unnecessary, burdensome red tape.
President Trump promised to change all that and last week we saw further confirmation that his plan to slash taxes and reduce regulations is working.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States has regained our status as the world’s most competitive economy for the first time in 10 years. The report is based on the state of our infrastructure, education institutions, and innovation, taking into account our future competitive advantages as well.
It’s been an honor to work with President Trump the last two years to help him keep his promise to Make America Great Again. And we’re not done yet.
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There was more good news on the jobs front as well. In August, job vacancies hit more than 7 million, and there were more than 5.7 million new hires. With only about 6 million people looking for jobs, that means that we have more jobs available than we have workers looking for one.
Even more interesting, the number of people who quit one job for another increased 12.7 percent over August of 2017, indicating that workers have enough confidence in our economy to voluntarily leave their job for a better opportunity.
In September, unemployment hit 3.7 percent, the lowest we’ve seen since the end of 1969. One economist said, “This is the best job market in a generation or more.” And the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits also hit its lowest rate in 49 years.
It’s exciting to go from saying, “Where are the jobs?” to “Where are the workers?”
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To round out these great numbers, it was also reported that low-income workers are seeing their wages rise. When you have less workers than you have jobs, that means employers have to compete for employees by offering higher wages and more benefits.
Comparing the second quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2018, blue-collar workers experienced a more than 5% percent growth in their weekly earnings. In fact, across the board we’re seeing the fastest increase for pay and benefits in a decade.
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There’s no question that having more jobs available than you have workers is a much better problem than not having enough jobs. But it’s still a problem that we need to solve, and the sooner the better. This is exactly why I support the JOBS for Success Act, introduced by Adrian Smith (R-NE) and approved by the Ways and Means Committee I lead.
This bill seeks to close the jobs gap by holding states accountable for not just helping people find a job, but to also keep that job. It gives them more flexibility by eliminating unnecessary paperwork and decreasing administrative burdens. And it allows state agencies to transfer up to 50 percent of their grant funds to local workforce development boards, creating more tools to help train workers.
This bill sends this message to those Americans who are sitting on the sidelines in this robust job market — “We need you!”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady is chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.