Portman Barron’s Op-Ed: We Don’t Have to Look Far for the Economy We Want

October 13, 2020 | Portman Difference

In a new op-ed for Barron’s, Senator Portman discussed how we can continue to rebuild the national economy and how the pro-growth policies and opportunity economy created by Congress and the Trump administration are key. Before the coronavirus pandemic impacted our economy, the United States was experiencing robust, sustained economic growth, with continual wage increases for more than a year and a half and unemployment rates at a historic low across the country thanks to pro-growth economic policies like tax reform in 2017, which Portman helped craft, as well as regulatory relief. Portman believes that a focus on these types of pro-growth policies will bring back America’s strong economy.  

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found at this link.  

We Don’t Have to Look Far for the Economy We Want

By U.S. Senator Rob Portman


October 12, 2020 

Jobs and the economy is again the top issue for the American people in recent polling. As we continue to rebuild after a self-imposed shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, the question many are asking is how to spur robust economic growth again and ensure the benefits are broadly shared. The answers are found in new data from the Federal Reserve, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shine new light on the strength and depth of the economy pre-Covid, and the disproportionate impact the coronavirus shutdowns have had on lower- and middle-income Americans. 


Based on data from the Labor Department, middle- and lower- income workers have been hit particularly hard by the impact of the virus. Fewer than one in 10 workers in the bottom quarter of jobs by wages can work from home, meaning many have been forced out of their jobs. Workers without a college degree account for nearly half of all workers who remain unemployed due to Covid-19, despite making up only about one quarter of the labor force. Overall, as of August, the total number of Americans working in lower-wage jobs had fallen by nearly 27%, according to Evercore ISI. The data also shows that women have been hurt disproportionately by the shutdowns, with many working in hard-hit industries like hospitality, and others leaving the workplace due to a lack of childcare options. 

The good news is, as we make progress in addressing the impact of the coronavirus through new therapies, an effective vaccine, and adherence to healthy protocols, we know how to both strengthen the economy back and close the wage gap. We know, because it turns out that is exactly what happened in the three years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to new studies by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve, the pre-Covid economy created by pro-growth policies like the 2017 tax reforms led to not only solid economic growth and historically low unemployment, but also historically low poverty rates and an increased standard of living for middle-income workers—in other words, a model for a post-Covid economic rebound. 

Pre-Covid, the national poverty rate had fallen to all-time lows. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the official national poverty rate fell by 1.3 percentage points, dropping from 11.8% in 2018 to 10.5% in 2019, the last full year of pre-pandemic economic growth. For economically disadvantaged groups like Black and Hispanic Americans, the poverty rate fell by as much as 2 percentage points. While there is always more work to do, this 10.5% poverty rate marks the lowest rate recorded since the metric was established in 1959. In fact, the nationwide poverty rate fell every year since tax reform in 2017, which represents 4.2 million fewer people in poverty. 


The coronavirus has posed unprecedented challenges to our economy, and sadly it is lower- and medium-income workers who have borne the brunt of it. We must ensure that our economic recovery is broadly shared. Fortunately, we have a way to do that—we must continue to support the pro-growth policies and opportunity economy created by this Congress and this administration to ensure those aspiring to rise on the economic ladder will have the best chance to achieve their dreams. These new data show that as we come through the Covid crisis, we know how to fuel yet another economic rebound that benefits all Americans.