U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross was present the Minority Business Development Agency 50th Anniversary Celebration

March 5th, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross was present and remarks at the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) 50th Anniversary Celebration in Washington.

Ross said, A lot of dedicated, passionate people have made it possible for the Minority Business Development Agency to achieve such a milestone. Congratulations! And thank you — to all the people who work in the small but mighty MBDA — for maintaining a five-decade tradition of excellence. Your service is needed now more than ever to assure the success and growth of minority-owned businesses throughout our nation.<

Ross said, The professional staff of MBDA have worked every day for 50 years with minority businesses throughout the country. When the agency was created, there were a scant 400,000 minority-owned businesses in the United States. Today, there are 11 million, up from four million in 2002.

When we look at minority employer firms, they generate $1.3 trillion in annual sales and have created more than 8.7 million jobs. That is a very big number, but with today’s fast-growing minority population, we need a lot more that we can grow to size and scale.

Since the agency’s inception, it is estimated that MBDA has worked with more than 13 million minority firms in the United States.  And, in just the last five fiscal years, MBDA helped facilitate almost $29 billion in contracts and financing to minority enterprises impacting 111,000 jobs.

One of the most promising avenues to individual prosperity and financial security is owning your own company. It is part of the American heritage and the American dream. And it is the reason so many aspiring people elsewhere in the world want to come to the United States: because it is relatively easy to start a business.

A great feature of the American society is we do not hold failure against anyone who tries. Every serial entrepreneur has had some failures, but they are outweighed by the subsequent successes. Most business start-ups consist of just one or two people initially, and they ramp up from there. With the advent of eCommerce and social media, it is easier than ever before for new companies to gain the attention of large numbers of customers.

Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Annual 2018 (Initial Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) Feb 28th, increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.4 percent.

Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this initial report for the fourth quarter and annual GDP for 2018 replaces the release of the “advance” estimate originally scheduled for January 30th and the “second” estimate originally scheduled for February 28th.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter initial estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency. Updated estimates for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on March 28, 2019.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Those were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected decelerations in private inventory investment, PCE, and federal government spending and a downturn in state and local government spending. These movements were partly offset by an upturn in exports and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased less in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter.

Current dollar GDP increased 4.6 percent, or $233.2 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $20.89 trillion. In the third quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.9 percent, or $246.3 billion.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent in the third quarter. The PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Personal Income

Current-dollar personal incomeincreased $225.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $190.6 billion in the third quarter. The acceleration in personal income reflected an upturn in farm proprietors’ income and accelerations in personal dividend income and personal interest income. Compensation of employees decelerated.

Disposable personal income increased $218.7 billion, or 5.7 percent, in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $160.9 billion, or 4.2 percent, in the third quarter. Real disposable personal income increased 4.2 percent, compared with an increase of 2.6 percent.

Personal saving was $1.06 trillion in the fourth quarter, compared with $996.0 billion in the third quarter. The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 6.4 percent in the third quarter.

Updates to third quarter GDI

For the third quarter of 2018, the percent change in real GDI was revised from 4.3 percent to 4.6 percent based on newly available tabulations from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program.

2018 GDP

Real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018 (from the 2017 annual level to the 2018 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2017.

The increase in real GDP in 2018 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were slightly offset by a small negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 primarily reflected accelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, exports, and PCE, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2 percent, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.50 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent in 2017. The PCE price index increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

During 2018 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018), real GDP increased 3.1 percent, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent during 2017. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent during 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2017.

SBA Appoints David M. Glaccum as Associate Administrator of Office of International Trade

WASHINGTON – U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon announced the appointment of David M. Glaccum as the Associate Administrator of the SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT). In this role, Glaccum will work to increase the number of small business exporters as well as the volume of exports by American small businesses. As Associate Administrator of OIT, Glaccum’s duties will include overseeing the execution of three program divisions: 1) federal and state trade development; 2) international trade and finance; and 3) international affairs and trade policy.

“I am pleased to welcome David to the SBA,” McMahon said. “His experience in improving and streamlining processes at the United Nations combined with driving results for major initiatives on behalf of the state of South Carolina will be a tremendous asset to entrepreneurs as the SBA continues to show the world the benefits and opportunities of working with America’s small businesses.”

Glaccum brings a variety of experience in federal and state government to the position. While serving as Chief of Staff to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley he was able to reduce budgets by finding and eliminating unused resources, improving operational efficiency, and led the development of U.S. “Peacekeeping Principles” that have been applied to all 15 peacekeeping mission renewals, resulting in nearly $900 million in savings to the United Nations peacekeeping budget. 

While working as then Governor Haley’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Advisor he successfully led state-wide initiatives to improve South Carolina’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and worked to ensure proper disaster response and recovery financing and allocation of state resources following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.  Prior to his time with Haley he served as Chief Counsel to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham where he led the drafting and negotiations on a wide array of complex policy initiatives ranging from criminal and civil justice reform to counter-terrorism enforcement.

Glaccum earned a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

McMahon: President Trump Encourages Congress to Work Together to Unlock the Extraordinary Promise of America’s Future

WASHINGTON – Feb 5th, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Linda E. McMahon issued the following response to President Donald J. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address:

“President Trump delivered an optimistic vision for American greatness that included a bold and inclusive agenda rooted in shared values. He extended a good-faith offer to Congress to work with him to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, rebuild American infrastructure, establish safe and legal immigration, protect American workers from unfair trade practices, and strengthen national security. The booming Trump economy provides irrefutable validation of the President’s pro-growth governing philosophy. The agenda he proposed will expand prosperity for all Americans, while providing innovative solutions to some of the most important challenges facing small businesses.”

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past expectations

Treasury yields jumped on Friday after the Labor Department said the American economy added more than 300,000 jobs and more people entered the workforce in the month of January.

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past Wall Street’s expectations for an increase of 165,000 jobs, seemingly brushing off a 35-day government shutdown as investors braced for mixed results. It was the 100 straight month of gains.

The unemployment rate climbed to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63.2 percent. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by a total of 85 cents, or about 3.2 percent.

The report is also indicative that despite recent geopolitical turmoil — US-China trade tensions and uncertainty over the Brexit deal in Europe — the U.S. economy will manage to shake off any market volatility, according to Josh Wright, the chief economist for iCIMS and a former Federal Reserve staffer.

Wright, however, warned that the better-than-expected number could complicate the dovish narrative the Fed is currently pushing.

On Wednesday, policymakers at the U.S. central bank unanimously voted to keep the benchmark federal funds rate unchanged, while signaling a patient approach to future interest rate hikes.

“We still see sustained expansion of ecnomic activity, strong labor conditions and inflation near 2 percent,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at the time. “But the crosscurrents suggest a less favorable outlook.”

But the blowout jobs number could convince the Fed to reverse course before the end of the year, according to Wright.

“As the shutdown fades into the past (and if another one doesn’t do more damage), the Fed will lose one of its arguments for pausing, leaving it to rely on global headwinds, trade and Brexit uncertainty,” he said. “Financial conditions have already improved considerably. It’s going to be a rocky quarter or two for the U.S. central bank, with a lot of risk to its credibility. Yet if markets find the Fed credible, implied interest-rate volatility should be restrained.”

Jobs numbers follow a report released on Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP, which revealed the private sector added 213,000 jobs in December, beating analysts’ expectations of 178,000 jobs.

Analysts anticipated that unemployment would hold steady at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest numbers in nearly 50 years, while forecasting the creation of 165,000 jobs, according to economists polled by Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters). In December, job creation was revised to 222,000, down from the original better-than-expected 312,000.

Initially, the White House was bracing for a potentially negative jobs number in January when the Department of Labor releases the payroll data. However, U.S. labor officials said last week they would count the once-furloughed workers as employed because they’re getting paid retroactively once the government is up and running again.

However, the job creation was not coupled with robust wage growth; average hourly earnings rose just three cents on the month, or 0.1 percent, well below the 0.3 percent expected gain. Yields also jumped after the Institute for Supply Manufacturing said activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in January.

The short-term 2-year rate rose 5 basis points to 2.504 percent. The yield on the long-term 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.677 percent at 10:12 a.m. ET. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

Statement Regarding the United States Delegation to China

Washington, DC – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today announced the members of an official delegation from the United States to China to discuss the trade relationship between the two countries beginning Monday, January 7, 2019.  

Members of the United States Delegation:

  • Ambassador Jeffrey Gerrish, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative
  • Ambassador Gregg Doud, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator
  • Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert B. Kaplan, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, U.S. Department of the Treasury 

The delegation will be accompanied by senior officials from the White House, USTR, and the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, State, and Treasury.

DHS Proposes Merit-Based Rule for More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Under the proposed rule, USCIS would also reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption, likely increasing the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected for an H-1B cap number, and introducing a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelors or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. When USCIS receives more than enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B cap, a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, is used to select the petitions that are counted towards the number of petitions projected as needed to reach the cap.

The proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season.

Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education would be selected under the H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries. Importantly, the proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS. The proposed rule would help alleviate massive administrative burdens on USCIS since the agency would no longer need to physically receive and handle hundreds of thousands of H-1B petitions and supporting documentation before conducting the cap selection process. This would help reduce wait times for cap selection notifications. The proposed rule also limits the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to the beneficiary named on the original selected registration, which would protect the integrity of this registration system.

On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, instructing DHS to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of our immigration system.” The EO specifically mentioned the H-1B program and directed DHS and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”

Additional information on the proposed rule is available in the Federal Register. Public comments may be submitted starting Monday, December 3, when the proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register, and must be received on or before January 2, 2019.