clinton-trump-debate-workforce.jpgThe first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump wrapped up Monday night. During the sometimes fraught 90-minute discussion, the candidates attempted to address the gamut of issues facing the country: immigration, cyber security, foreign policy, the economy and employment. Although many of these topics have become polarizing, the focus on jobs seems to be unifying. Gallup’s Election Benchmark Survey shows that 88 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans agree that employment is one of the most fundamental factors that must be addressed. Regardless of party affiliations, beliefs or political persuasion, one of the two candidates will become president. Their policies will influence and shape matters that affect our industry. So let’s take an objective look at each campaign’s stance on the job market.

Employment Is One of the Most Important Issues

There are many variables impacting the nature of employment today. If we look back at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) jobs report this summer, the figures tell a mixed tale stasis and small improvements. The good news is that businesses hired 5.1 million professionals. The bad news is that all industries, in aggregate, witnessed labor turnover rates to the tune of 4.9 million workers. The 0.2 percent difference would indicate that just as many people left their positions as came aboard. Other sources, such as Compensation Force, depict employee attrition rates close to 17 percent, based on a survey of 28,000 companies. That’s the highest level of churn since 2008, the dawn of the recession.

We’re also witnessing a break in the bond between productivity and wage growth, as evidenced in reports from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). From 1973 to 2013, the study shows, productivity increased to 74 percent. Hourly pay, however, rose only 9 percent. Compare those figures to the period from 1948 to 1973. During that time, productivity and wage increases both saw gains over 90 percent.

In a previous post, we examined each candidate’s position on the gig economy. Today, we’re exploring the much larger issue of the nation’s workforce. Each presidential nominee has his and her own idea of how to drive job creation and growth. Voters will decide whom they consider best suited for the task. We’re not assessing the merits of either person in this article. Our intent is to produce a summarized outline of their stances as an informational benefit for every professional in our industry. Following are the key points, as reported by Vicky Valet in her excellent piece for Forbes.

Clinton, Trump and Their Proposals to Revitalize the Workforce

Creating Jobs

Hillary Clinton has publicly made jobs creation a priority for her first term. She has already designed and published a proposed 100-Day Jobs Plan. Her strategy relies on a significant investment to help produce new employment opportunities. Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, states that the policy could build 10.4 million jobs during Clinton’s first term in office. In his report, however, Zandi cautions that the plan does “little to promote increased private sector investment.” He cites some long-term economic costs from the higher taxes needed to fund the initiative. A possibility exists that such a hike could “reduce the incentives to save, invest and work.” Following are Clinton’s primary goals:

  • Invest in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy to put Americans back to work in roles devoted to rebuilding the country.
  • Strengthen oversight and enforcement of trade agreements to prevent companies from shipping U.S. jobs abroad.
  • Reduce taxes and bureaucratic impediments to cultivate small business growth.
  • Capitalize on the burgeoning industries involved in exponential technologies, which are creating research and innovation demands — and which could give rise to entirely new industries in the future.

Donald Trump’s plan is designed to create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years. He bolsters his position with years of experience in creating jobs at his own enterprises. An analysis performed by CNNMoney shows that Mr. Trump’s business efforts have led to 34,000 new positions across his various companies. Like Clinton, Trump is focusing on increasing domestic manufacturing, reducing incentives for companies to move operations overseas and extending tax breaks for business owners. Unlike Clinton, Trump has not yet published a detailed employment plan. During his many speeches, he regularly defines his strategy by these objectives:

  • Negotiating fair trade deals to limit offshoring and produce more in-country jobs for U.S. workers.
  • Driving down the existing trade deficit and enhancing domestic production.
  • Cutting taxes on businesses to facilitate the ease of selling U.S. goods in foreign markets.
  • Replacing the politicians currently in charge of employment policies with experienced business leaders who are “jobs-creation experts.”
  • Reviewing and potentially repealing environmental policies, such as Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which Trump believes have hindered hiring.

Federal Minimum Wage

Hillary Clinton has historically touted the benefits of raising the federal minimum wage. From 2001 to 2008, Valet notes in her article, Clinton “cosponsored or introduced bills to raise the minimum wage in every session of Congress” during her tenure as a New York senator. She is pushing for a minimum wage of $12 per hour. She also encourages states to consider adopting wages of up to $15 per hour.

Donald Trump’s representatives say that he too favors an increase. Trump’s proposal would raise the minimum wage up to $10 an hour. He also endorses any state’s right to set higher amounts. T

he debate about higher minimum wages remains divisive among economists and business leaders. According to last year’s report from the U.S. Department of Labor, increasing the minimum wage would help the economy. A letter from 600 economists cited a stimulative effect because the additional earnings would allow workers to purchase more as consumers. Another survey conducted demonstrated similar findings among three out of five small business employers. Conversely, economists studying Seattle’s newsworthy jump in the minimum wage discovered that it did little to help workers and may have hindered hiring.

Both candidates support policies that will give talent access to paid leave for family and medical situations. Hillary Clinton seeks to guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Workers would collect at least two-thirds of their wages up to a set limit. The proposal covers equal leave for new mothers and fathers, whether they’re biological or adoptive parents. However, accommodating this proposal would require raising taxes on higher earning individuals to fund the program.

Donald Trump’s initiative includes six weeks of paid family and medical leave. It applies to mothers following childbirth, and would activate only when employers failed to offer an equivalent time-off policy of their own. Funding for the program would come from unemployment insurance.


In May, the government revised the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to make an additional 4.2 million employees eligible to receive overtime pay. This issue, too, has polarized business leaders. Mrs. Clinton supports the amendment to FLSA.

Mr. Trump argues against the revision, stating that increasing salaries to meet the $47,476 threshold will negatively impact small business owners. He cites data provided to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) by the National Federation of Independent Business. Trump would work to create exemptions in FLSA to ease the burden he sees on small businesses.

Union Rights

In a nutshell, Clinton favors collective bargaining for unions, while Trump has historically opposed “right-to-work” laws.

Workforce Development

Workforce training and development has become a big issue for every company. Both candidates agree that efforts must be made to continue evolving the development of skills in the nation’s talent. Trump proposes investing funds in job training, placement services, education and loans for veterans “looking to start entrepreneurial ventures,” as Valet explains.

Clinton’s plan addresses four areas for investments in workforce training:

  • New training technologies and programs for job seekers.
  • Support programs for trainers, some at community colleges, to accommodate more students.
  • Federal, state and local resources to prepare workers, unions, employers and trainers for collaborating on workforce development.
  • Encouraging organizations to invest in internships and apprenticeships.

Election day will be here soon, and we encourage everyone to vote for their candidate of choice. It’s clear that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump acknowledge and understand the importance of the employment market. We hope this breakdown of their proposed strategies helps shed some light on how they’ll support issues critical to our industry.