Sen. John Thune
There’s only one way to describe today’s economy: hot. Wages are growing at the fastest pace in a decade. Economic growth crushed expectations in the first four months of the year. Productivity reached its highest level since 2010. Business investment is up. Personal income is up. Median household income is at an all-time high. And in April alone, the economy added an impressive 263,000 jobs, dropping the unemployment rate to its lowest level in half of a century.
In fact, the unemployment rate is so low, the last time we’ve seen anything like it was the same year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon; the same year the Beatles released Abbey Road; and the same year Woodstock became a household name. To put it in even greater perspective, in 1969, the last time the unemployment rate hit this level, a gallon of gasoline would have cost you a whopping $0.35. All that to say, it’s been a while.
Just as important as knowing where we are is understanding how we got here in the first place. For nearly a decade, the policies of the previous administration hadn’t worked. The economy stalled out, wages were flat, and folks were struggling. The situation appeared so dire that many economists were preparing people to accept slow economic growth as the new normal, but I, like many of my colleagues, was unwilling to accept that America couldn’t do better.
Thankfully, in 2017, the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress went in a new direction. We slashed government red tape and gave small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches more room to do what they do best. We knew individual Americans were better positioned than the government to make decisions for themselves, so we acted and passed once-in-a-generation reforms to our tax code, allowing taxpayers to keep more of what they earn.
Talking about a strong economy is one thing, but realizing what it actually means is another. For many Americans, it means bigger paychecks, more opportunities, and greater peace of mind. For people looking for work, it means more job openings and less competition to land a new gig. And for business owners and job-creators, it means expanding their operations, hiring more people, and selling more goods or services.
While the broader national economy is strong, just imagine how much stronger it could be if agriculture – the lifeblood of the heartland – was on the same track. Unfortunately, it’s been bogged down by protracted trade disputes that have left farmers and ranchers in their wake. Folks in the agriculture community are growing more frustrated, and I relay their concerns to the president and members of his administration nearly every time I see them. Like many South Dakota farmers and ranchers, I too support the president’s goal of addressing trade imbalances, but I believe it’s time to wrap up negotiations, open up markets, and give these family-run operations the certainty and security they deserve.
As we’ve already seen, it’s amazing what a few pro-growth policies can do for the economy, and with a little bipartisan support, we can continue down this road. Let’s continue to prioritize American workers and families and help ensure they have access to a secure, prosperous, and hopeful future. That’s my commitment to South Dakotans and the rest of the American people.