Arizona is widely recognized for its business-friendly climate and low operating costs. In the modern economy, however, it seems more families are trying to actually live on a minimum wage, which had once been a starting point. Furthermore, it seems that in this dynamic economy, workers are asked to change jobs more frequently than in the past – which also means robust unemployment insurance, easily portable health care plans, and making sure that those who are self-employed, freelancing, or starting/operating small businesses do not fall between the cracks.
So, how can policymakers address long-term economic growth and stability without jeopardizing Arizona’s competitive advantages? How can our community promote wages and salaries that actually sustain a family? How can struggling workers be empowered to better their positions? What can be done to encourage entrepreneurs and support small businesses?
The answers include focusing on human capital and cultivating an innovative, knowledge-driven economic ecosystem. The following concepts are stepping stones along that path:
- Build upon and retain natural talent by cultivating the region’s various economic clusters; for example, healthcare, aerospace and defense, cyber-security, software and microelectronics
- Expand workforce development and apprenticeship programs; maintain and promote their alignment with secondary and post-secondary education
- Develop training and re-training programs for the jobs that are coming, not only the ones already here
- Expand and protect programs that can help build the economic ecosystem, such as effective incentives, creative funding sources and tech-transfer from higher education
- Fulfill the healthcare promises of the Affordable Care Act
- Develop access to affordable childcare
- Guarantee equal pay for equal work so women earn the same as men for doing the same job
- Ensure an employee’s job is protected in the event that a medical or family emergency requires time away from work
- Simplify the tax code and close loopholes so that tax reform benefits the middle class most
The goal for federal policies should be to help expand opportunity, not penalize success.