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MBA Members Vocal on Top Issues in Annual Government Affairs Survey

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The Manufacturer & Business Association is your voice on local, state and federal issues. From taxes to health care and workforce development, our Government Affairs Department monitors what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg, alerts members to pending legislation and provides a powerful, unified voice for business.

However, we would not be effective if not for your participation to prioritize our efforts. Legislators regard us as experts on the issues facing our business community thanks to your input. Our 2019 Government Affairs Survey establishes direction on the issues that matter most. To those members who participated in this year’s survey, thank you!

This year’s respondents were almost evenly split between manufacturers and nonmanufacturers. Here are the highlights:

The top three issues for our members in order of significance are: 1) health insurance costs, 2) finding qualified workers, and 3) a potential minimum wage increase. The first two areas really jump out with 92 percent of members citing the cost of health insurance and 83 percent citing finding qualified workers as key issues. These results are consistent with the feedback we received at our recent “What Keeps You Up at Night?” Business Issues Forum in Pittsburgh, as well.

At a time when many political figures have grouped employers together as task masters with a disregard for the well-being of their employees, the results of our survey prove nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, many employers have found themselves competing for qualified workers and have increased their compensation and/or benefits packages to retain good employees and attract new ones. For example, according to our survey, if group health insurance costs decreased, respondents were tied in indicating they would invest the savings back into the company and give raises/bonuses. Not far behind, at No. 3, was hiring more employees. However, our results indicated that 75 percent of those surveyed cited lack of soft skills as the largest barrier to hiring new employees.

At the MBA, we view that workforce development and the high costs of health insurance are intrinsically linked. As legislators attempt to solve workforce development issues, an effective avenue would be to help alleviate the growing burden of rising health insurance costs on small employers. I would suggest the approach currently used by 30 other states and allow small business to band together to purchase health insurance through an association health plan. More on that soon.

For those of us who live in the real world and disregard political talking points, our survey found that not only did the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act benefit employers, many employees benefited as a direct result of this pro-growth legislation. Almost evenly distributed, our survey indicated employers used their savings to grow operations, purchase new or needed
equipment upgrades and gave raises/ bonuses to their employees.

To the pundits who told the middle class this policy only helped the rich, they failed to see how employers passed savings along to their employees. The U.S. Department of the Treasury reported 90 percent of wage earners experienced an increase in their take home pay; our survey proves this fact, as many workers received pay increases directly from their employers and benefited from newly purchased equipment to improve their efficiency

The MBA’s 2019 Government Affairs Survey qualifies the effects of public policy on our membership and serves as one of our most useful tools to develop policy positions. Our Government Affairs team plans to use this information to increase our effectiveness to support pro-business policies.

To learn more, visit the Government Affairs page on www.mbausa.org or contact us at 814/833-3200.