US Chamber News

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US Chamber of Commerce News

Week of 11/20/2023

Retail Sales Dip, But Consumers Keep Spending...

Retail sales fell 0.1% in October, coming off a strong 0.9% increase in September.

  • Auto sales amounted to much of the decline, mainly due to the auto strike. If those are taken out, sales were up 0.1%.

Why it matters: Consumers continued spending and showed resilience despite their personal savings falling and credit card balances rising.
Details: Electronics and appliance stores, food and beverage stores, health and personal care stores, non-store retailers (mostly online sellers), and bars and restaurants saw gains.

  • But sales were down at motor vehicles and parts dealers, furniture stores, and miscellaneous stores.

Bottom line: If our elected officials avoid adding uncertainty to the economy – like from a government shutdown – and focus on pro-growth policies that address the worker shortage and help U.S. companies sell more to international customers, the job market will remain robust, keeping incomes steady and consumers spending. Learn More...

Week of 10/30/2023

Rising interest rates + the national debt... What you need to know.
Rising interest rates have caused the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate to bump up against 5% for the first time in 15 years. This has significant implications for the federal budget.
Why it matters: Interest costs on the national debt could reach a record share of the economy within three years, making it the second-largest federal spending item, more than defense spending or Medicare.
By the numbers: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget lays out the details:

  • Interest costs could total more than $13 trillion over the next decade and $1.9 trillion per year by 2033.
  • Most long-term​ forecasts suggest the economy is likely to grow by 3.5% to 4% per year over the long term. This is below the interest rate on new bonds, meaning existing debt may grow faster than the economy.

Bottom line: Interest payments on our debt, along with rising costs to retirement and healthcare programs, are pushing America’s fiscal outlook into uncharted territory. Congress must prioritize efforts to reform our entitlement programs, the major driver of our debt and deficits.

US Chamber publishes articles about top-performing ideas amongst the small business community

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Week of 10/23/2023

Resilient Consumers Still Spending
Consumers are still spending, showing remarkable resilience. Retail sales rose 0.7% in September, coming off a strong 0.8% increase in August.

Consumers using credit cards is also up.
Details: Big drivers of the gains in September were car sales, online purchases, and sales at miscellaneous retailers. Purchases at restaurants, bars, and gas stations were robust, too.
Big picture: A strong economy will keep consumers confident and spending. To strengthen the economy businesses need pro-growth policies that address the worker shortage and advance a bold trade agenda.
Read more

Week of 9/25/2023

Republicans and Democrats Agree: We Need Immigration Reform

The situation at the border is chaos. Our immigration system fails to meet the needs of businesses and imposes significant costs on communities and our economy. These issues can only be addressed with bipartisan Congressional action.
The case for legal immigration reform: Read more from small businesses that depend heavily on foreign national workers in the United States:

  • A small landscaping business in Florida depends heavily on foreign national workers in the U.S. on temporary work visas. There simply aren’t enough to fulfill business demand. Read more here.
  • Richard Cardew, founder of Cardew Hay Co. in Arizona, believes modernizing the immigration system will help alleviate the ongoing worker shortage. Read more.

What lawmakers have to say: Join us this Thursday, September 28, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. ET for a virtual conversation with Representatives Maria Salazar (R-FL) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) for Common Grounds: Spotlight on Legal Immigration Reform.
This conversation is part of the U.S. Chamber’s Common Grounds series, where we convene one Republican leader and one Democratic leader to explore important issues facing the business community and the nation. Reserve your spot to join this important discussion on immigration, here.

Week of 9/18/2023

Bracing for Impact: Potential Government Shutdown

There’s a growing consensus that a government shutdown may occur when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2023. In a memo to U.S. Chamber members, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley details the implications for the business community and the economy.
Sound familiar? This impending government shutdown would mark the fourth in a decade, with policymakers from both sides of the aisle using the threat of a shutdown to advance their own policies—a strategy that has consistently proven ineffective.
Throughout history, these shutdowns have concluded only when the party responsible for instigating the shutdown yielded to public pressure.
How long can we expect? The potential duration of this shutdown is uncertain, and reopening the government appears challenging due to the tight margins in the U.S. House of Representatives and threats of legislative chaos. While external pressures and the need for disaster aid funding might hasten its resolution, the overall conditions are unlikely to change significantly from the outset.
In the current environment, as hard as it may be to avoid a shutdown, it would be even harder to get out of it.
What’s at stake: Government shutdowns have significant microeconomic repercussions, impacting sectors such as clinical research, law enforcement, national parks, visa and passport processing, services for American veterans, and federal contractors. These shutdowns can often result in mass employee layoffs, disrupt national security operations, and inflict substantial and often unrecoverable financial losses on businesses.
Dive deeper: Click here to read the memo sent to U.S. Chamber members.

Week of 8/21/2023

The 2024 election cycle (+ what biz voters want to hear!)

The first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle took place on Wednesday. As the political landscape takes shape, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted a poll to explore voter perspectives.

Voters largely perceive business as a force for good. Here are other key highlights:

  • Trust is higher in employers, local businesses, and even large businesses, compared to trust in the federal government among Republicans and Independents.
  • Support for the free market outweighs government management, particularly among Republicans and Independents.
  • Candidates opposing excessive business micromanagement are preferred by Republicans, Independents, and a notable portion of Democrats.

Voters on both sides strongly support a wide range of pro-growth policies including streamlining permitting processes, advancing global trade agreements, modernizing the legal immigration system, and implementing legal reforms.

While some of these issues were mentioned in the debate, the U.S. Chamber outlined the top priorities that should be on candidates’ agendas in order to promote pro-growth policies, strengthen America’s economy and bolster global leadership.

Click here to learn more. 

Week of 8/14/2023

The Biz Community Rallies to Support Hawaii

Last week, a series of unprecedented wildfires broke out in Hawaii. Affecting the islands of Maui and Hawaii, the wind-driven fires have prompted evacuations, caused widespread damage, and took the lives of many Americans.
What we're doing: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is closely monitoring the devastating wildfires across Hawaii and coordinating with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation also has a number of business-led solutions to help small businesses recover during this critical time. If you know of small businesses in Hawaii that are impacted or are at risk of being affected, please share these resources that could help.
What you can do: The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s Foundation is raising funds to rebuild impacted business communities on Maui, Hawaii Island, and throughout the state of Hawaii. Click here to make a donation.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about the evolving situation and to find additional reputable donation sources to help the people of Hawaii.

We Must Shine Light on AI Bill of Rights Blueprint

On Thursday, the Chamber submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the General Service Administration (GSA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on the Biden administration’s ‘Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.’
Why it matters: Recent calls for the White House to mandate the AI Bill of Rights significantly undermine America’s ability to compete globally.
Be smart: Not only did the administration develop the AI Bill of Rights without adequate stakeholder involvement, but it also explicitly defined this document as a white paper, not a federal government policy.

  • ‌Agencies implementing the AI Bill of Rights as policy puts American companies at a disadvantage and raises significant legal and practical issues.

Our take: Since the release of the ‘Blueprint,’ the Chamber has filed six Freedom of Information Act requests—none of which have been adequately addressed. We are steadfast in our search for transparency into how the AI Bill of Rights was developed.

Dig deeper:

  • ‌The Chamber’s AI Commission Report published earlier this year highlights AI’s promise while calling for a balanced approach to its regulation.
  • ‌On Chamber OnDemand, we explore the benefits of and advancements in AI for businesses.

Week of 8/7/2023

New Proposal Would Turn Auditors into Law Enforcers

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is proposing changes to audit standards for noncompliance with laws and regulations that would hurt auditors’ ability to perform audits for public companies.
Why it matters: The proposed standards would drastically expand the scope of auditor responsibilities to matters outside their traditional role, effectively transforming auditors into law enforcement officials.
Be smart: Auditors’ attention would be diverted away from their traditional responsibilities toward evaluations of compliance with laws and regulations globally. This would harm audit quality, drive up compliance costs, and could make it more difficult for investors to make informed decisions.

  • And: The financial cost of the proposal could triple annual auditing costs for public companies.

Bottom line: Given the negative impact on investors and public companies, the PCAOB should reconsider its proposal.
Read more

Week of 7/10/2023

Job Openings and the Workforce Shortage
Employers may be pulling back on hiring in anticipation of a slowing economy, but the labor market remains tight. Job openings were 9.8 million at the end of May, 496,000 below their April level.
Why it matters: Employers still face a serious worker shortage. There are 3.7 million more job openings than unemployed workers.
By the numbers:

  • Openings increased in educational services (45,000), state and local government education (37,000), and federal government (24,000).

Openings decreased in health care and social assistance (285,000), finance and insurance (139,000), and other services (78,000).
Dive Deeper: The U.S. Chamber’s America Works Initiative helps employers across the country develop and discover talent to fill open jobs and grow our economy.
Read More Here.

Week of 6/19/2023

The future of the office is here.
Yet architects, builders and industry professionals say permitting/zoning regulations and building layouts are impacting their ability to convert current office spaces into other uses, according to The Future of the Office survey released yesterday from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Some key findings from the survey:

  • 46% of of commercial real estate professionals indicate that zoning/permitting is impacting their ability to convert current office spaces into other uses.
  • Flexible and hybrid workspaces that promote collaboration with offsite teams will be hot trends over the next five years.
  • 71% of builders and 68% of architects are receiving more frequent requests to convert existing office space for a different use compared to one year ago.

Click here to learn more about the findings.

NEW! Permitting Provisions in the Recent Debt Ceiling Agreement
The recent debt ceiling agreement included some of the most significant permitting reforms in 50 years. Take a look at the permitting provisions included in the debt limit agreement here. While the significance of this accomplishment shouldn’t be overlooked, there’s much more work to be done to achieve the meaningful permitting reform that our country and communities need. Our Permit America to Build initiative continues to urge Congress to build on this momentum and enact comprehensive permitting reform by the end of the year. Learn More Here.

Retail Sales Up Two Months in a Row...
Retail sales rose 0.3% in May. In April, sales rose 0.4%.
Why it matters: Retail sales declined in February and March after a big jump in January. Two months of consecutive growth is encouraging.
But: Consumers’ ability to spend is still likely to decline as the year goes on. Inflation is only now slightly below wage gains and savings are spent down while credit card balances have risen sharply.
By the numbers:
       *Sales were up at motor vehicles and parts dealers (1.4%) and furniture stores (0.4%). Click here to see the other industries with spikes in sales.
*Sales were down at gas stations (2.6%) and miscellaneous stores (1%).
Looking ahead:A robust job market could put a floor beneath consumer spending and keep it stronger than in previous economic slowdowns. Read More here

Week of 6/12/2023

Inflation Came Down in May But Was Still High
The Consumer Price Index, the broadest measure of consumer prices, rose 4% annually in May but was down from April, when it was 4.9% and well down from the peak of 9.1% in June 2022.
           On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.1% from April to May. This is a drop from March to
April when prices rose 0.4%.
Why it matters: Despite the progress, inflation remains well above the 2% target and the underlying data is more concerning.
          Core prices, which strip out volatile elements like food and energy, rose 5.3% on an annual
basis and 0.4% from April to May.
          The Federal Reserve looks more closely at core prices than the overall inflation number.
Looking ahead:The Fed could still pause interest rate hikes, but if core prices continue to remain high, it will have to resume rate increases, perhaps as soon as July.

Risk Detection: How to Protect Your Business from Security Vulnerabilities
Cybersecurity should be a priority for every business, and vulnerability scanning is an important tool to identify weaknesses in your system. By proactively detecting and addressing these issues, businesses can protect themselves against unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyberattacks.
What is vulnerability management? Vulnerability management is a vital aspect of cybersecurity, ensuring protection against potential threats. Understanding the underlying causes of security vulnerabilities is crucial for effective management and mitigation.
Evaluating vulnerability risks: Assessing the potential impact and likelihood of each identified vulnerability is a crucial component of vulnerability management. It helps prioritize vulnerabilities based on their severity and potential impact on the business.
What do vulnerability scanning and detection tools do? These tools are designed to specifically detect weaknesses within networks, applications, and devices. By conducting comprehensive scans, they identify and classify vulnerabilities, providing businesses with a clear understanding of their security gaps.
Vulnerability assessment costs: The cost of a vulnerability assessment can vary depending on factors such as the size of the organization, the complexity of the infrastructure, and the scope of the assessment. Generally, the costs range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Ultimately, the investment in vulnerability scanners is a proactive step toward strengthening the overall security of a business, potentially saving lots of money in the long run.
The different types of vulnerability scanners: There are a host of tools that you can use, and each type offers unique advantages that can be chosen based on the specific needs of your organization. Click here to view some options that might work best for you.


Week of 6/5/2023

Calling Small Biz Owners: Apply for Chance to Win $25K!
If you’re a small business owner hoping to take your business to the next level, America’s Top Small Business is the perfect opportunity for you. Here are three reasons to apply for our awards program before the deadline on Friday, July 7, 2023—just one month from tomorrow!
1) Get rewarded for your hard work and dedication: We’re recognizing top businesses in seven regions across the U.S. — so no matter what corner of the country you call home, you’ll have a chance to be recognized! One grand prize winner will receive our Small Business of the Year Award and a cash prize of $25K.
2) Connect with like-minded individuals: Regional finalists will join us in Washington, D.C. this fall for an in-person event and celebration. You’ll have the chance to network with other small business owners and get insights from our team of business experts.
3) Elevate your brand: Highlight your business’ accomplishments and share your story with a wider audience! Regional finalists will receive an article on CO—, a free U.S. Chamber of Commerce membership, as well as a digital toolkit to help spread the word about their ATSB status with customers, fans, and social followers.
Check out our in-depth guide to discover everything you need to know about the ATSB program.

Week of 5/22/2023

Small Biz News You Can Use
Problem-solving is a skill that can be developed over time with the right approach and tools to help. Read more here.

How Trade Helps Small Biz
Did you know? It's World Trade Week! The U.S. Chamber is dedicated to pursuing new trade and investment agreements that uphold and improve our standard of living and our standing in the world. International trade doesn't just benefit large companies, but the entire American business community.
Tell me more: More than 41 million American jobs depend on trade. That’s nearly one in every three private sector jobs. All across America, small and medium-sized exporters are flourishing, selling their products to international customers, gaining market share—and creating jobs. Here are three of them.
#1: Jonathan Szucs, president of Advanced Superabrasives, Inc. based in Mars Hill, North Carolina, says that after passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement  (USMCA), his company did more in exports in one year (2021), than the last 15 years combined. As a result of this success, his company opened new sales offices in both Canada and Mexico to grow its business abroad.
#2: Bill Palmer, compliance officer in Rosenbauer America, which manufactures fire-fighting trucks and similar vehicles in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska, is another proponent of seizing trade opportunities. Palmer says that small exporters located anywhere in the U.S. can benefit from exporting—and if they’re not seeking out international customers—they’re missing out. Click here to learn more.
#3: Tom Dustman, international sales director at Sunnen, a manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri, says that about 45% of his company’s total sales are from international customers and that there’s ongoing demand for "Made in America" products worldwide.
Learn more here.

Week of 5/15/2023

Another Strong Jobs Report
The economy added 253,000 jobs in April, another strong report for job creation. Expectations were for 180,000, so we exceeded them again. We added 165,000 in March, so this was an increase, but job gains in February and March were revised down by a combined 149,000.

Why it matters: The hot labor market is a signal that the Fed’s anti-inflationary policies are not working well enough. But there are signs the market is slowing, particularly the February and March revisions.
This means the Fed will likely stick to its plan to pause interest rate hikes to give it more time to see the impact of the moves it has made.
Be smart: Even with the strong job numbers the labor force contracted by 43,000. Still, we are now 2.2 million workers above the pre-pandemic participation level.
But, if we had the same participation rate now as in February 2020, there would be almost 2 million more workers in the labor force. Employers continue facing a worker shortage crisis.
By the numbers:  Wages rose 0.5% from March, and 4.4% annually from April 2022. Plus, check out the new jobs added by industry below and here.

  • The education and health industry added 77,000 jobs;
  • The professional and business services industry added 43,000 jobs.

Click here to see how many jobs were added in leisure and hospitality, government, and other industries.

Week of 4/24/2023

Business Wins at SCOTUS
Business got a big win at the U.S. Supreme Court last week. In Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. FTC and SEC v. Cochran the Court unanimously ruled that defendants can challenge the constitutionality of FTC and SEC decision-making in federal district court without first wading through the cumbersome administrative processes.

Why it matters: Most businesses don't have the resources to litigate for years before having their constitutional arguments heard by a court. As a result, businesses often settled even weak and unmeritorious enforcement actions before ever setting foot into a courtroom.

  • Because of this decision, they can raise constitutional claims right away.

Be smart: The Chamber continues to fight—and win—in the courts to hold federal agencies accountable for overreach and abuse. The Chamber Litigation Center filed amicus briefs [here and here] supporting prompt judicial review to ensure fairness and due process.

Bottom line: This decision ensures that businesses do not have to go through the very unconstitutional procedures that they are trying to challenge.

Read more: Chamber Senior Vice President Sean Heather wrote an explainer about the importance of the Axon case.

Week of 4/3/2023

Small Business Owners’ Confidence in National Economy Drops

Despite small business owners seeing a weak economy, a majority say their business is in good health, according to the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business

Why it matters: The Index dropped slightly this quarter to 60 from 62.1 as small business owners’ outlook on the national economy weakened.
Details: Only one in five (20%) small business owners believe the economy is in good health, down from 27% saying the same last quarter.

  • Fewer small businesses say they plan to increase investment over the next year (38% vs. 47% last quarter).
  • ‌For the fifth consecutive quarter, inflation topped the list of challenges for small businesses.

But: A majority (63%) say their business is in good health, and 64% are comfortable with their cash flow.

  • Nearly 70% say they have retained the same number of employees over the past year.
  • 19% report increasing staff over the same period.

Be smart: The Index also found small business owners’ perceptions of their access to capital have declined over the last five years.
About half (49%) of small business owners surveyed say their current access to capital or loans is good. That is slightly lower than in Q2 2022 (54%), and significantly lower than those who said their access was good in Q2 2017 (67%).
Our take: “This quarter, small businesses’ concerns over inflation are soaring and their view of the broader economy is darkening, though they still report that their own businesses are in good health,” said Tom Sullivan, Chamber Vice President of Small Business Policy. “Small business owners are pulling back a bit on spending as they see storm clouds in the economy appearing ahead.”
What else? Click here to read the 2023 Q1 Small Business Index report.


New Tool: America Works Data Center

As you know, there are too many jobs without people to fill them in America today, and as a result, businesses can’t grow, compete, and thrive. The U.S. Chamber and Chamber Foundation's America Works initiative is designed to mobilize businesses and government to swiftly address the workforce shortage crisis.
The America Works Data Center (AWDC) page captures the trends on job openings, labor force participation, quit rates, and more, for a quick understanding of the state of the workforce and now has a new tool for you and your members. Using the new AWDC Airtable, you can now access all of the national, state, and industry labor market data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that powers the AWDC. Additionally, the Airtable now allows viewers to filter the data as well as copy and paste data into a new, personal excel workbook. This Airtable link is evergreen, meaning it will automatically update in real time, delivering the BLS data to you almost immediately. Click Here to View the AWDC Airtable

Week of 3/20/2023

New Job Numbers Released: As released on Friday, job openings were 10.8 million at the end of January. While down 410,000 from December, openings are still extremely high.

  • Why it matters: There are 5.1 million more job openings than unemployed workers.
  • The big picture: Job openings are not dropping as fast as many anticipated because businesses still badly need many workers and because the economy is not cooling as quickly as expected.
  • Go deeper: For more snapshots of the U.S. economy from the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.

SNAPSHOT: Retail Sales Decline: Retail sales fell 0.4% in February, but this was after an incredible 3.2% gain in January.

  • Fill me in: Retail sales are a subsection of total spending. It includes spending at retail stores (including online) and at bars and restaurants, but it doesn’t include services, business spending, or investment.
  • Why it matters: The decline may lead many to believe consumer strength is weakened. But based on last month’s data, consumers still can spend despite inflation, dwindling savings, and shrinking room on their credit cards.
  • The big picture: Consumer strength has buoyed the economy since COVID. As long as the job market remains robust and incomes remain steady, consumers will have money to spend, even if they are falling slightly behind inflation.
  • Learn more: For more snapshots of the U.S. economy from the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.

Week of 2/20/2023

Small Biz Boom: Entrepreneurship is booming in the United States. To find out the number of new business applications filed in 2022 –in your home state– click here to explore our interactive map that tracks the latest data on the surge in entrepreneurship in each state and county across the country.

Washington Can Help New Small Businesses Thrive Since the pandemic, millions of Americans have become entrepreneurs. Last week at Fox Business, Chamber Vice President for Small Business Policy Tom Sullivan explained how Washington can support these new small business owners.‌

  • Why it matters: “As new businesses grow, they are likely to employ more people in the community and fuel the local economy,” Sullivan wrote. About one-third of them are likely to hire workers.‌
  • Details: ”Since August 2020, applications filed to start new businesses have averaged around 400,000 per month,” Sullivan noted. “Prior to the pandemic, they hovered around 300,000 per month.”‌
  • What Washington should do: Sullivan laid out six things Washington can do to support America’s small businesses:‌
  1. Don’t penalize entrepreneurs. Avoid “laws like California’s AB 5 and similar proposals at the federal level that force sole proprietors into an employee relationship.”
  2. Prevent punitive tax increases. “Without congressional action in three years, small businesses will face a massive tax hike.”‌
  3. Avoid new mandates. They “raise the cost of entry so high that small businesses can never break into the federal contracting arena.”
  4. Stop the Federal Trade Commission from making “it harder for small business owners to eventually partner with or sell to a larger business.”
  5. Protect businesses’ freedom. Let them “set their own prices and enter into contracts by opposing government price controls and new regulations governing private business contracts.”
  6. Expand free trade opportunities. They provide “up more opportunities for small businesses to sell to the 95% of the world's consumers who live outside the United States."
  • Bottom line: Let’s do what we can to support this entrepreneurship boom that reflects the dynamism of the U.S. economy and benefits local communities.‌
  • Dig deeper: The Small Business Bill of Rights summarizes what should be the basic rights of business owners in America – and represents policies the Chamber fights for every day.

What's Going on at the FTC?

The Chamber is calling for immediate Congressional oversight over the Federal Trade Commission.

The latest: On Valentine’s Day, Christine Wilson announced she would be resigning as commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, she explained, “[Chair Lina Khan] has consolidated power within the Office of the Chairman, breaking decades of bipartisan precedent and undermining the commission structure that Congress wrote into law.”

‌Wilson concluded she could not enable the lawlessness emanating from the agency and that her conscious required her to resign.

  • Why it matters: Under the leadership of Chair Khan, the Federal Trade Commission has twisted and stretched the boundaries of antitrust law to, in her words, “shape the distribution of power and opportunity across our economy.” Current Federal Trade Commission leadership has led the agency down a path abandoning the limited Congressional authority delegated to it.‌
  • What we’re doing: The Chamber has been sounding the alarm on the FTC’s abuses. In January, Chamber President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on the agency’s illegal power grab banning noncompete agreements in employment contracts.
    Bottom line: In light of the issues raised by Commissioner Wilson’s departure, Congress must refrain from granting the FTC any further rulemaking or enforcement authority until it conducts a thorough investigation and oversight and puts forward reasonable guardrails around its activity.

Week of 2/13/2023

How Small Business Owners Feel About their Business and the Economy Right Now Despite facing challenges like inflation, worker shortages, and supply chain disruptions, small business owners feel generally good about the health of their business right now, according to the latest MetLife and U.S. Chamber Small Business Index survey.

  • By the numbers: A full 89% of small businesses said their business is in average, good, or very good health in Q4 of 2022. Of those, 64% said their business is good or very good.
  • The big picture: In a stunning example of “second-hand pessimism,”small business owners feel pessimistic about the future of the economy despite reporting their own business as healthy. Read More here.

January Jobs Surge Fill me in: The economy added 517,000 jobs in January. No one saw this coming. Consensus expectations were for 185,000. We blew those out of the water.

  • Why it matters: The labor force also grew by 866,000 workers. We now have more workers in the labor force than pre-COVID but not nearly as many as we should have based on population growth.
  • Bad news: The participation rate (the percentage of workers in the labor force as a share of the working-age population) remains well below its pre-COVID level.
  • Bottom line: Businesses still have 11 million openings to fill, so we need workers to keep coming back. Read More Here.

Week of 1/30/2023

The U.S. has reached the limit on the amount of debt it is legally allowed to accrue and is at risk of defaulting.

  • Why It Matters: We must reduce our unsustainable deficits and attaching fiscal reforms to the debt limit is a good place to start. However, default can never be an option as it would call into question the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

‌Defaulting would raise the interest rate at which the government borrows, which would also increase the interest rate for consumer credit cards, mortgages, and other loans.

By the numbers:

  • $31.381 trillion: The current federal debt limit, which was last raised in December 2021.
  • 102: The number of times the U.S. government has increased the debt limit since World War II.

Be smart: The U.S. reaches its debt limit after sustained periods of running a deficit. The Treasury Department has implemented “extraordinary measures” for the U.S. to pay its bills and temporarily prevent a default on the debt. This can be done for several months, likely until early summer.

  • ‌Congress and the White House should work together to raise the debt limit well before then while looking at ways to address the debt and deficit. Fortunately, there are numerous bipartisan proposals, such as the TRUST Act to address entitlement funding, that could be passed as part of a debt limit increase.

Bottom line: The country needs solutions to address the debt and deficit, but defaulting on the debt and not raising the debt limit would make the problem even worse.

Week of 1/23/2023

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission moved to ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Chamber President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark vowed that the Chamber “will oppose the proposed regulation with all the tools at our disposal, including litigation.”

Why it matters: This fight is about more than noncompete agreements: “If the FTC can regulate noncompete agreements without authorization from Congress, there is no aspect of employment or commercial arrangements that it doesn’t have the authority to regulate or ban arbitrarily,” Clark wrote.

Be smart: Congress “gave the FTC authority to identify on a case-by-case basis individual acts that constitute unfair competition. Critically, this authority is subject to judicial oversight,” Clark explained.

‌“This structure has been a key to preserving innovation in a free market and avoiding overregulation. It prevents the FTC from writing the laws it is assigned to enforce, which is necessary to protect the constitutional separation of powers.”

But: The FTC wants to go beyond the limits Congress placed on it, Clark notes. “Before issuing the proposed noncompete ban, the FTC issued a radical reinterpretation of the agency’s authority” where it walks “away from having to weigh consumer benefits against consumer harms or even identify actual harm to consumers.”

Big picture: The FTC’s path would empower progressive activists. “Don’t like the pay gap between executives and nonexecutives? The FTC could simply declare it unfair and regulate it. Think that businesses above a certain size shouldn’t be allowed to get any bigger through mergers? The FTC could simply declare those businesses can’t make acquisitions.”

Week of 1/9/2023

Businesses are facing many economic challenges: the threat of a recession, the worker shortage, overregulation, and geopolitical uncertainty.

Why it matters: While American businesses are strong and optimistic right now, there is fear that the state of the economy is mixed and fragile – and confidence in the government to do what it can to help is low.  READ MORE about the state of American Jobs here.

Week of 1/2/2023

As today [Tuesday, January 3, 2023] marks the first day of the 118th Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stands ready to work with them to bring inflation under control, confront the threat of crime on American business, rein in regulatory overreach, and ensure America remains competitive and vibrant.

Fill me in: The “Calling on Congress” series highlights priorities that can and must be addressed in the 118th Congress. Check a few of them out below:

Grow and Modernize our Workforce: One urgent priority is easing the worker shortage crisis and ensuring we have a competitive workforce for the future. Some solutions include—increasing legal immigration while securing the border, removing barriers for working parents and fixing the K-12 education system. Click here to learn more.
Leading on Trade: For too long, America has been on the sidelines of trade while our economic competitors have been leaving us in the dust. If we want to create jobs and grow new industries here on our shores, there’s no excuse for our inaction on trade. Click here to learn more.
Improve the Outdated Permitting Process: For 2023, we are calling on Congress to enact a bipartisan permitting modernization bill and will work with any member of Congress who will help accomplish this goal. Click here to learn more.
Grow Investment Opportunities in America: Improving access to capital for businesses provides everyday investors with new opportunities for financial return, expands employment opportunities, and generates economic investment in underserved communities. Click here to learn more.
Stay tuned: For more about our priorities and the business agenda in 2023, tune in to State of American Business virtually next Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. ET by registering here.

Week of 12/19/2022

The end of 2022 is shaping up to be strong, with fourth quarter growth projected to be over 2%. Looking ahead, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently convened its Chief Economists Committee to discuss members’ outlooks for the economy in 2023.
Fill me in: The consensus among Committee Members is that the U.S. will experience a mild but short recession in the middle of 2023, caused by consumer and business spending falling because of rising interest rates.
The big picture: The U.S. economy is in for a bumpy 2023. Businesses should be prepared, and as always, also be prepared for those unexpected events that come out of nowhere. Read More...

Week of 12/5/2022

Job Openings Take a Slight Dip: According to new data released on Friday, there were 10.3 million job openings across the economy at the end of October. That is down 353,000 from September but still historically elevated.

Why it matters: There are now 4.3 million more job openings than unemployed workers. Businesses still struggle to find workers.
Similarly, workers remain confident they can leave their jobs and find new ones, even as their confidence in the economy is low.
Read more here ...