Want to know how well the economy is doing right now? Consider: this summer, as employment numbers go, the United States has entered into truly historic territory. Right now, according to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, we’ve reached the lowest unemployment rate on record for male and female adults, as well as for Asian, Black, and Hispanic Americans. We’re tied nationwide for the lowest rate in 50 years—a record 3.8 percent.
And Wisconsin is at the center of this blockbuster performance. Here, unemployment is at an even lower 2.8 percent. One of 14 states to tally record lows during the Trump administration, we’re hungry for new workers to fuel the tremendous business opportunities in our state, such as the big new Foxconn plant opening in Mount Pleasant.
While these outsized results are more than welcome, they’re hardly out of the blue. The well-crafted federal tax cuts passed in December are surging investment dollars back into the economy and back onto Main Street. And that doesn’t just mean more money. It means more job opportunities—lots of them.
Almost across the board, American businesses are adding jobs at a steady clip, even as demand for more jobs rises apace. Last month, more than 220,000 new positions were filled, from labor jobs in construction to knowledge jobs in education. During the bad old days of a decade ago, there were only enough open jobs for one out of every six people without. Now? There’s more than one job per unemployed American.
That’s six and a half million open jobs total, to be precise. Today, more than three out of five respondents agree now is a good time to land a good job. Wages are growing faster than expected—around 3 percent on average at hourly rates. About three-quarters of manufacturers say they’re raising wages this year. Over a third of small businesses have already hiked pay, growing wages faster on average than in the past two years.
My personal history reminds me that these historic results merit some thoughtful celebration. For two decades, when I owned and operated my own small landscaping business, I didn’t see anything like today’s powerhouse economy. And as my experience in business and government has taught me, credit is due to the smart economic policies pursued by our leaders in Washington.
Take the tax overhaul passed into law in December. Small business owners are now able to take a huge 20 percent deduction, rather than taking income tax rates as high as 40 percent on the chin.
That’s not just good news for owners, families, and Main Streets where small businesses thrive. It’s a sea change for the many states like Wisconsin whose economic performance stands or falls with small firms. Here, almost 100 percent of our businesses are small ones, employing fully 50 percent of our private sector work force.
Especially in today’s red-hot labor market, small firms need to reinvest their hard-earned revenues into the bigger payroll, higher wages, expanded benefits, and additional locations that attract top talent. Today’s tax cuts are putting those top goals within reach. According to the latest small business survey from Bank of America, majorities of owners call the tax cuts a game changer and a catalyst for greater optimism.
Meanwhile, exports are the highest in seven months, and the trade deficit is the lowest in eight. The National Association of Manufacturers reports three-fourths of their businesses are on track to add jobs and reinvestments. The list goes on.
And so will the prosperity, so long as good stewards of our economic policies continue to make and reinforce sound choices on taxes, regulations, and related issues. This election year, the policymakers who oversaw December’s historic tax cuts are working to lock in the rates fueling our economic performance. The numbers don’t lie—their approach is working wonders, and they deserve our continued support.
Joe Sanfelippo represents the 15th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.