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Wittman's Weekly: Creating Jobs, Not Destroying Them

The American economy is stronger now than it has been in decades. Since January 2017, the U.S. economy has created 5.6 million jobs. In fact, 224,000 jobs were created in June alone. The unemployment rate has hit a 50-year low. We are seeing historic levels of small business optimism, record numbers of job openings, increased business investment, and higher wages.
It is critical that we protect our job creators on Main Street. Small businesses are everywhere – more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business and they create almost two out of every three new jobs each year. Given that 99.5% of Virginia’s businesses are small businesses, it is my duty to support policies that benefit the thousands of small businesses across the First District and the state.

That is why I had to stand against the job-killing legislation House Democrats brought to the floor this week. The Raise the Wage Act would federally mandate businesses to raise the minimum wage incrementally to $15 per hour, a 107% increase that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates would prove catastrophic to Americans nationwide. It would have a crippling effect on small businesses, resulting in a reduction in business income, and making it more difficult for businesses to maintain prices for goods and services while retaining workers.

While the minimum wage would go up, the unemployment rate would go up as well: an estimated 1.3 million people or more (potentially as high as 3.7 million) would become jobless by 2025, this would be a total reversal of our recent economic wins.

This week, I visited with Virginians from the National Federation for Independent Businesses and they detailed how harmful this legislation would be to their small businesses. They explained that if this bill were to become law, they would have to increase the costs of their products – and if they can’t do that, they would be forced to reduce their labor force. A recent survey revealed that 92% of small business owners oppose increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The most recent jobs report that showed rising wages for Americans happened because the federal government has let the free market do what it does best: grow, thrive, and create more opportunity for a greater number of people. A mandated hike in the minimum wage would do just the opposite at a time when workers are reaping the benefits of the strong economy.

Instead of imposing such a dramatic increase in the federal minimum wage, I am focused on policies that spur economic growth, support our area businesses, create more jobs for hardworking Americans, and continue to grow paychecks. Like much of the legislation proposed this year, this bill would only serve as messaging points and would end up hurting hardworking Virginians. I will never stop fighting for policies that empower consumers and promote a strong economy.