Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


August 26, 2019


This Labor Day, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizes the invaluable contributions of America’s workers – from retail cashiers and truck drivers to shop floor managers and farmhands. Thanks to them, the best ideas and most innovative products come to life.

Core to our mission is helping workers succeed. That’s why we fight every day for the policies that empower businesses to help their employees achieve the American Dream.

Private industry fuels the American Dream by growing the economy, driving research and development, and leading the innovations that improve health and quality of life for all. The macro impact of U.S. businesses across all sectors of society is impossible to overstate. But just as important is their micro impact – specifically, the positive effect businesses have on communities, individuals, and families.

Businesses strengthen communities by fostering strong local economies and being among the first to respond in moments of crisis or natural disaster. They also generate a significant portion of philanthropic giving, donating more than $20 billion to charity in 2017 alone. Most important, businesses invest in the building blocks of community: individuals and families.

Successful companies care not only about their bottom line but also about the happiness and well-being of their workers. To that end, employers paid $8.8 trillion in wages and salaries last year, and that’s only the start. They spent an additional $2 trillion on employee benefits.

Among the most popular benefits in the private sector is employer-sponsored health care, which companies provided to approximately 152 million Americans in 2017. Many employers say that providing health care is both the right thing to do and an important way to attract the best talent and cultivate a healthy, productive workforce. The same goes for retirement savings, which accounted for more than $260 billion worth of employer-sponsored benefits last year.

It’s critical to put these numbers in human terms. This massive investment in U.S. workers goes beyond helping individuals pay rent and monthly bills. It enables them to put food on the table, go on vacation, and save for the future. It also provides access to education and health care, which lead to better life outcomes. And it even makes possible a meaningful retirement, allowing Americans to spend more time with children and grandchildren during their golden years. In short, this investment empowers employees across all states and industries to pursue a good life on their terms.

Today and every day, the Chamber will honor U.S. laborers by continuing to advocate on behalf of the businesses that strive to preserve, strengthen, and expand the American Dream.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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