Weekly Columns

Wages Are Up and Opportunities Are Increasing

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Washington D.C., September 12, 2018 | comments

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, we have seen story after story about employers improving benefit packages, giving employees bonuses and creating new jobs – not to mention the significant tax relief that nearly every American will experience as a result of the law. Despite these positive benefits, critics of the law have said it did not do enough to increase wages. In fact, wages are now rising at the fastest rate since 2009, and consumer confidence is nearing an 18-year high. According to recent report from the Council of Economic Advisers, wages have actually grown by 1.4 percent in the last year, which is good news for people who have recently rejoined the labor force. 

Just last month in August we had the largest single-month wage boost in nearly a decade, with average private worker earnings increasing 2.9 percent. So, who is seeing this increase in pay? U.S. workers in traditionally lower-wage jobs are benefitting from the largest wage jumps. For instance, on average bank tellers have seen an 8 percent increase in pay; maintenance workers have received 7.5 percent increase in pay; and property managers’ pay has increased 6.1 percent. This is great for lower-income and middle-class families, and is a direct result of the policies I’ve supported to get our economy back on track.

Not only are we seeing growth in wages, we also had exponential growth in the U.S. job market. Just this past month 201,000 jobs were added and jobless claims decreased by 10,000. When traveling throughout the First District, I’ve noticed excitement and optimism about the economy while visiting with different businesses and talking with employers. The U.S. unemployment rate is at 3.9 percent, the lowest since the 1960’s, and this rate is even lower in Tennessee. According to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, Tennessee has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. These numbers are proof that Republicans’ pro-growth, pro-worker policies are working.  

Democrats in Congress did not support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and a criticism they frequently mentioned was that the tax relief in the bill for businesses was permanent while the tax relief for individuals expired after 10 years. Arcane Washington budget rules prevented Congress from making much of the tax relief in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent, but I have consistently said no one needs to worry about tax relief expiring for individuals. Now, we’ll have a chance to make good on that promise when the House votes on H.R. 6760, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act. I am a proud cosponsor of this bill to make the tax relief for individuals permanent, and I believe this vote gives members an opportunity to show their support for permanent tax relief that benefits nearly every American.

According to a Tax Foundation analysis, making these cuts permanent will create 1.5 million new jobs, increase wages by 0.9 percent and increase GDP by 2.2 percent. This legislation will also help families by making the following policies permanent: lower tax rates; a doubled Child Tax Credit to be available to more families; first Paid Family Leave Tax Credit; elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax for 96 percent of those who paid it last year; and even more relief from the Death Tax. Additionally, I’m glad we will consider legislation that helps Americans save for retirement. Retirement security has been a passion of mine since I got to Congress, and I know how important these policies are is to low- and middle-class retirement savers. 

These bills will protect small businesses and the middle class, promote family savings and encourage new entrepreneurs. Republicans continue to work toward growing our economy, and the proof is in the results. I am very proud of the work we have done and excited to see the optimism these policies have created throughout rural America.

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