The economic news is good for Idaho and the nation.
- Unemployment is down, way down to the lowest national rate in many years, at 3.8 percent in May.
- As of April, unemployment was at 2.9 percent in Idaho.
- Employers added 223,000 jobs nationwide in May alone.
- Average hourly earnings have increased 2.7 percent.
- Small business owners report record-level employee compensation and more job openings than qualified applicants.
This data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Idaho Department of Labor and NFIB, along with reports of property values increasing in areas of Idaho and announcements of employers offering bonuses and wage increases, give many reasons for optimism in the direction of our economy. Our economy is strengthening. The benefits of the tax reform and banking reform laws are just starting to be felt and the positive effects will be realized in many different ways in the years ahead. These and other reforms being carried now are generating ongoing growth.
Tax Reform—The productivity and job growth; boosts to retirement assets and other investments; wage increases; and savings of time and money from simplified tax filing provided through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are already making a difference. But, many of this law’s benefits will continue to be felt over the long-term as Idahoans in every income group receive reductions in their tax burdens when they file next year. Benefits will continue as gains are further seen in retirement assets and 529 education savings accounts from rises in stock prices, as corporate stock buybacks, and a more competitive tax code, better enable capital formation for the creation of new companies and jobs
Banking Reform—The bipartisan Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act law, which I worked on for years with my colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee, our counterparts in the House and others, right-sizes regulation to make it easier for smaller financial institutions to extend credit, loans and mortgages and provide other products and services to working families and consumers. It will allow financial institutions to better serve their customers and communities, while maintaining safety and soundness. It also maintains and increases important consumer protections.
Eliminating Excessive Regulation—Congress and the Administration have been delaying or canceling misguided federal regulatory actions. This includes the repeal of Obamacare's mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty. In 2017 alone, the President signed 70 pieces of legislation passed by Congress aimed specifically at overturning costly rules and regulations from the previous Administration.
Layered together these policies and others are creating conditions in our country that enable growth. The effects of these changes are going to be felt, directly and indirectly, for many years to come. As U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) stated recently on the Senate floor, “The bottom line is clear: Under the policies of this unified Republican government, American workers, families, and business owners are achieving economic growth that is unmatched in recent memory.”
As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, it has been rewarding to help advance these conservative, pro-growth policies, and I look forward to building on this momentum moving forward for Idaho families. There is no doubt we have issues to tackle—including fully addressing our significant unfunded federal spending obligations (as noted in the recent report from the trustees of Medicare and Social Security), further advancing a roadmap for American ingenuity to flourish and continuing to roll back infringements on personal information and liberties—to further strengthen our economy.
But, working together, with the input of Idahoans, we can use the opportunities ahead to continue on this vigorous course for our country to restore prosperity, stability and liberty.