2018: A Banner Year for American Workers

Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 1:33 pm - Permalink

As we celebrate the New Year, workers around the country are thankful for a booming jobs market that President Donald Trump and Republicans have delivered for the American people.

Thanks to historic tax reform and deregulation, 4.6 million new jobs have been created since President Trump was elected. The unemployment rate remains at 3.7%, the lowest since 1969, and employment is at a record high of over 156 million.

In November 2018, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000. In addition, average hourly earnings over the past year have increased by 3.1%, the highest since 2009.

In fact, the labor market is so strong that there have been more job openings than individuals looking for jobs for the last eight months. 

Minorities, in particular, have benefited greatly from President Trump’s policies. The Hispanic unemployment rate is 4.5%. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is at 5.9%, a record low rate, and the unemployment rate for women is 3.4%, a 50-year low.

The Trump Administration has also helped workers through its Administrative actions. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, for example, has introduced two new plans, Association Health Plans (AHPs) and Association Retirement Plans (ARPs), which will lower the cost of health care and retirement.

The Department of Labor issued a final rule in June 2018 on AHPs and announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on ARPs at the end of October. The rule on AHPs gives many small businesses the ability to provide health care for their employees because the plans reduce administrative costs. AHPs allow small businesses in the same geographic area or in a particular industry to join together to provide better healthcare coverage from greater economies of scale. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 400,000 uninsured individuals will gain coverage under AHPs. 

Similarly, the proposed rule on ARPs would allow small businesses that are geographically near each other or in a particular industry to join together and offer retirement plans to their employees at a lower cost, resulting in more Americans with retirement plans.

Further, President Trump has specifically helped government employees. On May 25, 2018, President Trump issued three executive orders in order to strengthen the federal workforce. The first executive order streamlined the process for removing a poor-performing government worker or worse. The second executive order limited taxpayer funded union work done by federal workers, known as official time, and the third executive order provided timelines for negotiating federal collective bargaining agreements.   

As a result, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie recently ended official time for 430 medical professionals on November 8, 2018. Other Trump Administration Secretaries, such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, have also improved collective bargaining agreements to better serve federal employees and the American people.

Finally, on June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court with President Trump’s appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, decided Janus v. AFSCME. Janus was a landmark case that ended agency fees for government workers. Previously, the Supreme Court had allowed unions to charge government workers who were not union members for “representation services.” The unions decided how much to charge these workers. The Supreme Court this summer, however, found that these fees violated the First Amendment rights of government workers because they forced these workers to subsidize private speech.

Other victories include the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule to end using Medicaid payments as union dues, the proposed rule by the National Labor Relations Board to restore the definition of joint employer, the Office of Personnel Management guidance, and others.

As 2019 begins, American workers should be optimistic about the future as President Trump and Republicans work to provide them with even more freedom and greater opportunities.