On Monday, we celebrate Labor Day and honor American workers, 12.3 million of whom work in manufacturing. Manufacturing companies employ 9 percent of the workforce, and the vast majority of those companies are small businesses.
I own and operate one of those companies, Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore, Md. As a job creator, I know our company would go nowhere without talented, hardworking employees. We would not be able to ship American-made products to 39 foreign countries if we did not have a dedicated team. They are invested in our company's success, and I'm invested in theirs.
Unfortunately, our leaders in Washington do not always realize that when they impose burdens and regulations on businesses, a company's employees suffer the consequences as well. A tax increase means money I could have used for raises has to go to the IRS. A new regulation means time we could have spent perfecting a new product is consumed by a mountain of paperwork.
Business will always face some sort of economic challenges; change is inevitable. However, that doesn't mean that we should be complacent and let our elected leaders set up roadblocks to our success--and to our employees' ability to earn more, work more and provide for their families.
Earlier this year, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) launched a campaign called "Power of Small" to let small manufacturers tell their stories--to raise awareness among lawmakers and voters alike that we are the backbone of the economy but that our nation's capital is preventing us from reaching our full potential. If our elected leaders just took on a few of the big issues, we could spur incredible growth in manufacturing and across the economy.
It's time for tax reform. Our tax code is outdated and uncompetitive. Businesses pay higher rates in America than in the developed nations we compete against in the world market. A 2015 NAM study found that comprehensive business tax reform that lowers rates for companies of all sizes would add more than 6.5 million jobs to the U.S. economy. What are we waiting for?
It's also time for regulatory reform. For manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees, regulatory compliance costs total $34,671 per employee, per year. In total, the cost of federal regulations exceeds $2 trillion annually. Of course we need smart, effective regulations to keep our people and products safe, but this has gotten out of control. Regulations are inefficient and duplicative and a nightmare for small businesses--and ultimately rob workers of achieving greater pay and more opportunities. I encourage anyone who is as fed up as I am to take action at rethinkredtape.com.
Finally, it's time to open up new opportunities for manufacturers to export their products. I take great pride in picturing our overseas customers opening up a box from Marlin Steel stamped with "Made in America." To give small manufacturers more opportunities to reach other countries, we need trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that tear down barriers to entry and contain strong language for enforcing the rules.
As we celebrate Labor Day, manufacturers and businesspeople like me are focused on what we can do to support our employees and their dreams. Part of the answer is calling on our elected leaders and candidates to deliver reforms that will provide new opportunities for our companies and our workers alike. Taxes, regulations and trade are just three issues where they could make a big difference.