“Republican policies on regulatory reform, tax cuts and other important issues have all produced the current jobs boom. As we work through the remainder of this term of Congress, it is imperative that we devote all of the time we can to keeping this economic juggernaut going.”
WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement at today’s hearing, “Antitrust and Economic Opportunity: Competition in Labor Markets.”
Below are the remarks as prepared.
Ranking Member Collins: Thank you, Chairman Cicilline and Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, for holding this hearing.
We’ve had great news under the Trump economy: Female, African-American and Hispanic unemployment levels are at historic lows; the labor force participation rate is strong; the economy has added 6.4 million jobs; and year-over-year wage increases have sustained.
This September’s unemployment rate was just 3.5 percent — making it the 19th straight month with unemployment below four percent. September’s unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanics and people with disabilities all matched or set the lowest rates on record.
The September unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma fell to just 4.8 percent — a full three percentage points below what it was in November 2016.
To put the icing on the cake, September marked the 17th straight month in which the number of people unemployed was lower than the number of open jobs.
For Americans who struggled to find work and support households during and since the Great Recession, this is very good news.
There really isn’t a question about what lies behind these astounding figures. On election day 2016, America’s voters turned the page on failed economic policies and ushered in new ones through their choice of president. Republican policies on regulatory reform, tax cuts and other important issues have all produced the current jobs boom.
As we work through the remainder of this term of Congress, it is imperative that we devote all of the time we can to keeping this economic juggernaut going. Cementing pro-job policies in place is not a partisan issue. I invite my colleagues from across the aisle to spend all the time they can working with me and my Republican colleagues on bills that will keep the economy producing these kinds of gains for American workers.
We can also do more. The hearing we are holding today highlights that. Although technology and other advances in recent decades would seem to have made it easier for workers to be mobile than it was in the past, that is not the case.
One reason is surely occupational licensing. In recent decades, the number of trades and professions subject to occupational licensing has increased dramatically.
In some cases, this can be justified for genuine reasons of health, safety and consumer protection, but, in other cases where those reasons are lacking, occupational licensing requirements block new workers from entering the profession.
Those barriers are especially tough on military families in which both spouses work. As these families move from a base in one state to a base in another, the non-military spouse often struggles to find a new job in his or her field simply because of unjustified occupational licensing requirements.
These are issues that we can help to address together through legislation.
So, also is the question of whether members of state licensing boards are chilled too much from serving by the specter of antitrust liability for their actions. Of course, we also need to make sure that a balance is struck that keeps members of state licensing boards from abusing their positions to prevent competitors from joining the industry.
The use of non-compete agreements between employers and employees, and no-poach agreements among employers restrict worker mobility. In some cases, these agreements may have a legitimate role to play, but it is important that we make sure such agreements aren’t broadly used to harm competition.
Finally, there is the issue of labor monopsony — the issue that arises when just one or a few employers in a given area have market power with which to drive down wages and other terms of employment available to a given labor pool. This issue can be particularly problematic in rural areas, and I am glad that we are examining it today.
I look forward to the witnesses’ testimony and yield back the balance of my time.