Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday was an important moment for small business owners everywhere. The President covered a wide breadth of issues from immigration policies to tax reform, but he focused extensively on what his administration is doing to create jobs as well as what small business owners can do to increase economic growth and make the most out of 2014.
The speech last night was a healthy mix of areas that could use improvement and areas in which Americans have made great strides. Obama focused heavily on growing the middle class. He noted that middle class jobs have been slowly disappearing, diminishing many Americans’ opportunities for upward mobility and causing some “serious blows” to the belief that anyone can get ahead in America with hard work and dedication. But it isn’t all bad news—Obama also announced that business leaders are declaring that America, not China, is now the number one place to invest and small businesses now account for 98% of America’s exporters, solidifying their place as fundamental players in the global economy.
Here’s what you need to know from last night’s speech whether you’re a long-time business owner or just organizing a startup.
- Unemployment is continuing to fall. According to research presented by the Obama’s administration last night, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 5 years at 6.7%. Beyond signaling a stabilizing economy, this is good news for businesses everywhere, many of which are finding they are able to create more jobs and hire on more qualified people.
- Businesses may see lower tax rates in the near future. With his emphasis on creating middle class jobs, Obama wants to initiate tax reforms that will lower tax rates for businesses creating jobs. For small businesses around America, this means more revenue to invest back in your business or distribute among employees.
- Minimum wages may be raised this year. 5 states have already moved to raise minimum wages, but Obama declared last night that he is going to issue an executive order “requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10.” Though it’s unclear how many people this executive order will affect, he urged Congress to follow his example and work to draft new legislation that will raise the minimum wage nationwide.
- Obama’s administration has given more small business loans in the past 5 years than any other administration. In conjunction with the Small Business Administration, Obama is serious about creating more opportunities for small businesses across the nation. If your small business is seeking a SBA-backed loan, now is the time to start meeting with local banks and other financial institutions.
Though we may still have a long road ahead of us to full economic recovery, we may see some positive changes in the year ahead. A full transcript of Obama’s speech can be found here.
Note: To hear what our CEO and Chairman, Jeff Stibel, spoke to congress about in regards to Access to Capital for small businesses in December of 2013 visit our Access to Capital site.
Photo Credit: VinothChandar, Flickr