A lot can change in six months. That is how long it's been since the first tax reform in a generation became law.
For working families across America, things are already getting better. After years of being stuck in a rut, our economy is finally hitting its stride. Workers and businesses alike are feeling more confident and more in control of their futures.
It's been only six months, but the law is quickly delivering results.
First and foremost, tax reform is about creating more jobs. And 1 million have already been created since the law was signed. Unemployment has dropped to 3.8 percent — the lowest in 18 years — and the number of open jobs now exceeds the number of people looking for one. This means more Americans looking for work can get onto the ladder of opportunity.
Tax reform is also delivering bigger paychecks and letting Americans keep more of what they earn. It starts with lower rates, a nearly doubled standard deduction, and a doubled child tax credit. But it's also driving higher pay. More than 4 million people in the United States have received a bonus or a pay raise, according to The Heritage Foundation, as a result of tax reform. And last month, average hourly earnings grew at their fastest rate since 2009.
For many companies, tax savings have also translated into investments in their workers' families and futures. Many are now offering better maternity and paternity benefits. Companies like Kroger and Boeing are opening more doors to advance employees' careers with tuition assistance, partnerships with educational institutions, and technical training. With more job openings than ever, the work to improve our human capital is essential. And more Americans are finding security in their retirements with companies boosting their 401(k) matches.
One benefit flying under the radar is families are also seeing lower bills thanks to tax reform. In at least 48 states, and Washington, D.C., utilities costs are going down so households are paying less to cool their homes, cook dinner and flip on their lights.
Still, there's more.
For more than 8,000 of the country's more distressed neighborhoods, transformative economic development could be on the horizon. That's because last week, the Treasury Department approved the final round of opportunity zones — an important poverty-fighting tool included in tax reform. This designation allows areas in need of revitalization to offer tax incentives, tapping into more than $6 trillion in unrealized gains and bringing investment and growth to those communities.
Tax reform is about building a more confident America, and it's off to a fast start. Surveys show small business confidence is at record levels right now. Confidence among the lowest-income households has risen by more than 11 points in the last four months, boosted by a better job market and more take-home pay. And consumer confidence is near an 18-year high. Tax reform has helped remove a burden of uncertainty and replaced it with growing optimism about the future.
There is certainly more work to be done, but tax reform has opened the door to new possibilities and opportunities for families. It has improved people's lives. All of this, in just six months.