By U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
Around this time of year, families across the country look back at the past 12 months and count our blessings. This year, Americans have even more than usual to be thankful for.
We’re in the midst of the best economy in 50 years. It has been defined by good tax policy, good regulatory policy, and at the end of the year real breakthroughs for good trade policy.
When Republican tax reform went into effect, people in Missouri and across the country began taking home more money in their paychecks. Thousands of companies announced pay raises, bonuses, and new investments.
The tax law continues to pay off in the form of a much stronger economy. The Labor Department reported recently that the unemployment rate is just 3.5% – the lowest it’s been in 50 years. This year we hit the lowest unemployment rates ever recorded for African Americans, Hispanics, veterans, people with a disability, and people without a high school diploma.
The number of job openings in America exceed the number of unemployed people by a huge margin. There are 7.3 million unfilled jobs across the country, and only about 5.9 million people looking for work.
Since President Trump was elected, the economy has created more than 7 million new jobs – more than the entire population of Missouri. It’s showing no sign of slowing down. Last month, there were a whopping 266,000 new jobs added to the books.
This is a great economy to go to work in – and it pays.
Average hourly earnings have gone up by 3.1% since a year ago, far outstripping inflation. The rank and file actually did even better than the bosses. Production and nonsupervisory workers saw their earnings go up by an average of 3.7%.
The combination of more people working and higher wages means more Americans have risen out of poverty and dependence. There are nearly 7 million fewer people relying on the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program than there were three years ago. The poverty rate has fallen to a 17-year low.
The record-breaking economy also has gotten a big boost from the work we’ve done to slash regulations. Earlier this year, the administration replaced burdensome energy regulations with the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which will help hold down Americans’ utility bills at home and at work.
Less time and money spent dealing with unnecessary regulations means more time on productive things that are good for our families and our economy.
And now we’ve gotten the additional gift of two big trade deals. The agreement with our two biggest trading partners – Mexico and Canada – will mean even more jobs. The progress on a deal with China shows that smart trade policies can help everyone. And the trade relationship between us and Japan – the world’s third largest economy – gets better January 1.
Commonsense policies will keep our country on the right track. We’re expanding apprenticeship programs to train workers in the skills businesses need and get them on the job faster. We’re making it easier for veterans and their families to make the transition from active duty to civilian jobs.
It’s been a great year for America. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make next year even better.