Employers are “Primary Source of Community” – Policies Must Support This Vital Role

By at 1 September, 2022, 8:29 pm

By Karen Kerrigan –

Studies measuring Americans’ lack of confidence in key institutions should be a humbling wake-up call for politicians at every level of government. Over the years we’ve seen the results of the Gallup poll where Americans have consistently ranked key institutions very low, and in 2022 that confidence sank even lower. Congress and the presidency rank near the bottom in terms of public confidence.

Public schools also rank low. And, unfortunately, NAEP math and reading test scores for nine-year-olds (4th graders) during the pandemic years, as reported by AP, “had their largest decrease in 30 years while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the testing regimen behind the study, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Education Department. The declines hit all regions of the country and affected students of most races. But students of color saw some of the steepest decreases, widening the racial achievement gap.”

The fallout from the Covid shutdowns will affect society, the economy, individual prosperity and opportunity for many years to come, and it will take extraordinary commitment from the private sector, government and our elected officials to develop solutions that address the knowledge and social skills gap, which has harmed many young people.

For those elected officials who blame every ill on American business and who are working furiously to further regulate, micromanage, and pilfer precious resources from businesses and entrepreneurs through tax increases, they may want to consider findings that show the public has the most trust in their employers and small businesses. The Gallup survey has consistently reported that small businesses top the list of “institutions” that Americans trust the most, and the Edelman Trust Barometer finds that “my employer” has “emerged as an anchor of trust and stability” – 78% of employees surveyed trust their employer. As noted in the report:

As today’s societal issues continue to mount, employees now see their workplace as a safe space for debate and turn to it as a primary source of community — before their neighbors and religious organizations.

So, you would think that our elected officials – from President Biden down to the local town mayor – would be doing all they can to support this “primary source of community” and help it work even more effectively for American workers. Already, employers are filling critical needs such as education and training, healthcare and wellness, family support and more…in addition to providing a paycheck and career growth opportunities. Entrepreneurs and businesses need flexibility and capital to do all of this, but many politicians keep burdening businesses with more costs, rules and taxes, which work against their ability to meet employee needs.

Policies coming out of Washington, D.C. and several states clearly believe intrusive government is the answer to everything – even though the public has little confidence in these actions. For example, AB 257 (The FAST Recovery Act), which passed the California legislature and is now being considered by Governor Newsom for signature, would punish fast-service restaurants with their own super-regulatory system. Only 32% of Californians support the bill, as it is wasteful and redundant. It will vastly raise prices at many local food outlets, which means many jobs are on the line. As noted by IFA president Matt Haller in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed, “Unions and their legislative allies have built the FAST Act on a lie about quick-service establishments, and California’s entrepreneurs, workers and consumers are set to pay the price.”

Indeed, entrepreneurs, workers and consumers are paying for the price for a whole host of federal policies – supported by President Biden – that will make it more difficult for employers to keep their community of workers intact, paid and content. Tax increases in the “Inflation Reduction Act” will take capital away from the private sector. The massive spending will keep prices elevated, and efforts focused on disincentivizing and punishing energy development and production mean higher prices for businesses, for everyone, for years to come. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the policy iceberg when it comes to anti-business policies being aggressively pursued by the Department of Labor, the Federal Trade Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission, Health and Human Services, and other agencies.

On this Labor Day weekend, it would sure be nice to hear our elected officials talk about the positives of the American workplace, and pledge to uplift and assist this vital community that many employees turn to for support in many forms. Americans – business owners and employees alike – have grown sick and tired of the rhetoric and policies that aim to divide us for political ends. Policies that only undermine the very community – the workplace – that is the anchor of trust and stability for millions of American workers.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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