Domestic Roots of International Competitiveness

It is important to note that the ability of American workers, farmers, and companies to compete globally—in both foreign and domestic markets—begins at home. By many metrics, the United States scores highly in international indices of competitiveness: Our advantages include a skilled workforce, remarkable energy assets, and many of the world’s most innovative companies. However, it has become increasingly evident that the United States faces serious new competitive challenges.

The United States has fallen in various international rankings in recent years. Our primary and secondary education system does not measure up to those of our OECD peers. Investment in infrastructure simply has not kept up with our needs, and key assets badly need new investment to keep our transportation and energy systems running smoothly. Legal immigration, long an incredible source of renewal and dynamism, has been subjected to new limits.

In addition, the United States needs real, sustainable solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Systemic inequalities in these four areas perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.

Our health care system needs reform, though there is no consensus on the path forward. Increasingly, the United States is no longer the first choice as a location for advanced manufacturing, including in some national security-sensitive sectors such as semiconductors. These issues are beyond the scope of the present paper, but the Chamber is engaged on all of these fronts. We are committed to finding practical solutions that can be put into practice.

ACTION: The Chamber supports reforms to address shortcomings in the domestic policies that undergird America’s international competitiveness, including in areas such as education and workforce development, infrastructure, diversity and inclusion, and immigration.