This week is National Small Business Week, a time set aside each year to honor the 30 million American entrepreneurs who drive our economy forward. This small business week, however, is different from years past. Small business optimism is at record high thanks to tax reform and other policy changes coming out of Washington. Our economy is finally back on track after years of slow growth and a stagnant economy. Today’s small business owners and American workers are getting the relief they deserve from uncertainty and over-regulation. Small business owners are experiencing one of the best and most small business-friendly economies in recent U.S. history.
Less than four months after Congress passed a once-in-a-generation tax reform package, hundreds of small businesses and counting have announced new expansions, pay raises, bonuses and other benefits for their employees. The number of American workers receiving more take home pay has reached nearly 4.4 million. And according to CNBC/Survey Monkey data, at least half of small business owners are now expecting tax cuts in 2018.
As entrepreneurs’ paychecks have grown, so have the paychecks of their employees. Many businesses are using their newfound savings to invest in their workers. Colling Pest Solutions of Idaho Falls was recently invited to the White House after announcing bonuses and new benefits for their employees following the passage of tax reform. In addition to providing one-time bonuses, Colling Pest Solutions announced their business would pay quarterly bonuses and 50 percent of employee child care expenses.
In addition to tax reform, the Senate has taken steps to provide small businesses with significant relief from burdensome and unnecessary regulations. Using the Congressional Review Act, we have rolled back 15 Obama-era regulations and rules. As a result of these, and other efforts by the White House, the Federal Register was cut by roughly one-third in 2017. Republicans delivered approximately $60 billion in regulatory relief and saved Americans more than 10.7 million hours of paperwork.
We also passed legislation sponsored by my Idaho colleague Sen. Mike Crapo that would significantly reform the Dodd-Frank Act, a law that has crippled entrepreneurs. Many small businesses lost a critical financial lifeline through community banks as a direct result of Dodd-Frank. By reforming this failed law, the bill would help entrepreneurs gain access to the capital they need to build and grow their businesses. I’m optimistic the House will vote on its passage soon.
All of these reforms are doing their part to establish a strong economy with low unemployment and rapid growth. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since 2000. Average hourly wages increased by 2.9 percent last year, the largest increase in eight years.
Nearly a third of Main Street businesses say it's a good time to expand, the highest since the National Federation of Independent Business began asking in 1973. Fifty-nine percent of small business owners said they anticipate economic expansion in the next year, according to CNBC.
When small businesses succeed, we all succeed. I am proud of the work of this Congress to deliver fewer taxes and regulations and more flexibility for small business owners. The whole of our efforts has been to improve the atmosphere for businesses and help them to be more and more successful each year. Because at the end of the day, it is our small business owners who move the economy and keep Americans employed. This National Small Business Week, I want to thank every small business owner for their contributions to our economy and labor force, and reassure them my colleagues and I are continuing to fight for them in Congress.
Risch is chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.