By Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath
This article is part of a Wall Street Journal guide comparing
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on
issues from climate change to health care and jobs.
The winner of the presidency will face a U.S. labor market that
is still recovering from a pandemic-induced shock in the spring
that ended a decade of job growth.
Both President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe
Biden are promising to create millions of jobs. U.S. employers
through August have added back about half of the 22 million jobs
lost in March and April when the pandemic shut down wide swaths of
the economy, bringing the August unemployment rate to an 8.4% level
that is in line with past recessions. The candidate's strategies to
achieve a full jobs recovery differ.
Mr. Trump is emphasizing deregulation and tax cuts as levers for
job creation. Mr. Biden sees further fiscal stimulus by the federal
government as a key driver for supporting a jobs recovery.
Mr. Trump is promising to create 10 million new jobs in 10
months and one million new small businesses. He plans to cut taxes
to "keep jobs in America," according to his campaign agenda.
Judd Deere, a White House official, said the president's tax,
trade and deregulatory policies worked in the past and will work
again to build a strong economy.
Republicans have pointed to stronger-than-expected job growth
this summer as evidence that people are quickly returning to work
during the pandemic. Many in the party now see the economy
recovering on its own without additional government stimulus, and
question whether further deficit spending is wise.
Mr. Biden and Democrats, however, believe there is a need for
further government spending to aid workers during a period of high
Even with the summer's gains, more jobs have been lost to the
current crisis than in the 2007-2009 recession. Mr. Biden would
support providing state and local governments with money so
essential workers aren't laid off, and extending federal
unemployment insurance during the pandemic. An extra $600 in
jobless aid expired at the end of July, and Mr. Trump replaced it
with an additional $300 that will last up to six weeks. Congress
hasn't yet reached an agreement on a new federal benefit.
Mr. Biden "would do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes,"
according to his platform.
Both candidates have emphasized a desire to bring back jobs to
the U.S. through lower tax rates at home than abroad.
Mr. Biden is pushing plans to offer tax credits to companies
that generate new jobs for workers. For instance, if a
manufacturing company expands its footprint in the U.S. and hires
more workers, it would be eligible for a tax credit. He also
intends to impose a tax penalty on companies that have
manufacturing operations offshore to make products for importing
back to the U.S.
The candidates differ on the role of the federal government in
overseeing workplaces during the pandemic.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration under Mr.
Trump has provided guidance to employers on how to equip their
workplaces for the coronavirus outbreak. The agency has cited the
"general duty clause," which requires employers to maintain safe
workplaces, even absent specific rules.
OSHA hasn't designated an emergency temporary standard -- a step
favored by Democrats and some labor groups. Such a move would give
regulators the power to issue citations or fines for violations
during the coronavirus outbreak.
"We are pleased with the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. Circuit, which held that OSHA reasonably determined
that it has existing statutory and regulatory tools available to
protect America's workers and that an emergency temporary standard
is not necessary at this time," a Labor Department spokesperson
Mr. Biden would push OSHA to establish a mandatory emergency
standard. Such a standard would require an employer to submit a
specific workplace-safety plan to OSHA, which would then determine
its adequacy, said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a
federation of labor unions.
The number of OSHA inspectors to enforce workplace regulations
has fallen to the lowest level in decades, according to the
National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage
OSHA has actively been recruiting inspectors since 2017, a Labor
Department spokesperson said. Mr. Biden promised to double the
number of OSHA inspectors.
The Trump administration hasn't endorsed raising the federal
minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, where it has stood since 2009, the
longest it has ever gone unchanged.
Instead, the White House has said economic growth will lift
wages, and has indicated states are better positioned to decide on
wage floors. Most states have set a minimum wage above $7.25 an
hour, with 21 matching the federal requirement.
Mr. Biden promises to increase the federal pay floor to $15 by
2026. He would also support indexing the minimum wage to the median
hourly wage to ensure low-wage workers' pay maintains pace with
middle-income workers' pay. His plan is similar to a proposal that
passed the House last year, though that plan struggled to win
support from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.
California adopted a law last year that reclassified some gig
workers such as drivers and delivery people as independent
contractors entitled to better wages and benefits, a move that had
unintended consequences for other types of independent workers. Mr.
Biden would advocate to expand the California law to the federal
level with a new regulation and make worker misclassification a
violation of labor law.
The Trump administration has pursued a regulation that makes it
more difficult for contract and gig workers to be counted as
employees, taking an opposing view of the California law that
companies such as Uber and Lyft have fought. The Labor Department
recently proposed a rule that would determine whether a person was
an employee based on whether the worker is dependent on the company
for work. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said the pending rule would
be easier for employers to interpret while respecting other
workers' freedom to be an independent contractor.
Write to Sarah Chaney at firstname.lastname@example.org and Eric Morath at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 29, 2020 10:17 ET (14:17 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.