In his annual State of Business Address delivered January 12, 2021, U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue outlined a path for widespread economic recovery through a bold agenda of infrastructure investments, workforce reskilling, immigration reforms and reinvigorating America’s global competitiveness.
“The State of American Business is resilient,” Donahue stated. “In the face of significant challenges, including a global pandemic and an economic crisis, businesses have adapted to survive, they have served their communities and this country, and they have put forward life-saving, world-changing solutions.”
Additionally, he warned that excessive regulations and anti-competitive taxes would undermine the recovery.
“Some industries, businesses, and segments of the workforce have thrived,” he said. “But it’s a very different story for those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Entire industries have been decimated because people aren’t traveling, gathering, shopping, or going out like they used to.”
With 10 million American jobs lost in the last year, and small business disproportionately impacted – particularly minority- and women-owned businesses, many of which have closed – Donohue urged policymakers to focus on a broad-based economic recovery.
“We won’t restore the jobs, growth and prosperity that were lost in 2020 until we eradicate the pandemic and get our economy firing on all cylinders,” Donohue said. “And for that to happen, our elected officials must pull all the right policy levers – and push back against misguided proposals – in 2021.”
Donohue stressed that a broad-based and speedy economic recovery hinges on reskilling workers and fostering inclusive growth.
“Our lawmakers should fund rapid training programs to connect the unemployed with jobs in new sectors,” he said, stressing the need for employer-led initiatives to lead the way to align industry needs and in-demand skills. “Some of the best-paying sectors – such as health care or financial and professional services – have more job openings than available workers. If we do this right and do it quickly, we will improve the living standard for millions of Americans and get our economy growing even faster.”
He added that the economy could return to pre-pandemic levels if Congress sufficiently supports additional relief.
“This must include all the support necessary to get the vaccines widely distributed and administered – only then can we truly move past the pandemic,” he said.
“Our lawmakers should enact a fiscally and environmentally responsible infrastructure package that focuses on urgent needs like roads and bridges, modernizes our critical networks, and upgrades and expands technology like broadband,” Donohue said, noting that such a package is the “one way to raise productivity, create jobs, and drive up incomes in a hurry.”
“As a new government prepares to take the reins, we must prevent a return to excessive regulation or anti-competitive taxes,” Donohue warned, citing the positive effects of regulatory relief and pro-business policies on the economy before the pandemic. “Now is exactly the wrong time to further test the resiliency of businesses by hiking taxes or heaping on new regulations that do more harm than good.”
The State of American Business event is the premiere annual event on the debates, decisions, and disruptions facing the American business community across the U.S. and around the world. To watch the 2020 State of American Business address, visit the event page.