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Workforce Development and Economic Competitiveness

The U.S. has come a long way since the depths of the Great Recession, but many families across New Jersey and America are still struggling to make ends meet. Senator Booker is committed to working across the aisle to develop policies that leverage America's competitive edge in innovation and technology and build a stronger middle class. Senator Booker believes that the federal government has an important role to play in helping American businesses - particularly small businesses - succeed and create more jobs.

Senator Booker supports increasing investment in advanced manufacturing and technological development to ensure that the U.S. remains at the forefront of global innovation. The United States cannot afford for other countries to continue to lure U.S. firms abroad and take human capital and advanced technologies with them.

As a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Senator Booker understands the importance of business accelerators when it comes to supporting New Jersey entrepreneurs and providing opportunity for growth.

He introduced the Startup Opportunity Accelerator (SOAR) Act to direct $25 million in funding over five years to a Growth Accelerator Fund, which would allow startup businesses to compete for grants to help their businesses grow.

Senator Booker has hosted small business forums across New Jersey for businesses to learn about federal resources available to them and help them connect with other entrepreneurs to share best practices.

Senator Booker is committed to fighting unemployment by promoting policies that grow our economy, provide Americans with job opportunities, and arm them with the skills they need to succeed. Among other efforts, he has partnered with a Republican colleague to introduce the bipartisan Leveraging and Energizing America's Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act.

The LEAP Act will better equip workers with the skills needed to fill available jobs by incentivizing an expansion of the nation's apprenticeship programs through a new federal tax credit for employers. The legislation would strengthen our nation's economy by enhancing our pool of skilled workers, and strengthen American families by providing access for many to high quality jobs. Senator Booker believes encouraging the growth of paid apprenticeship programs is a good investment because our future competitiveness and economic strength depend on the innovation and skill of our workforce. A 2012 survey from Mathematic Policy Research found that individuals who complete registered apprenticeship programs earn over $240,000 more during their careers than people who did not participate in such programs, and the return on investment for every federal government dollar spent on registered apprenticeship programs is $27 in tax revenues.

While apprenticeships have been proven as a successful means of job creation in other countries, they compose only 0.2 percent of the current workforce here in the United States. Apprenticeships can and should serve as an effective workforce development strategy in America.

Manufacturing has long been a cornerstone of the American economy. Senator Booker has sought to strengthen this important economic pillar by promoting small business manufacturing investment. Senator Booker introduced the Scale-Up Manufacturing Investment Company (SUMIC) Act of 2015, which would improve access to capital that small manufacturing firms need to grow.

Small Businesses
New Jersey is home to over 700,000 small businesses across a wide array of industries, including construction, manufacturing, retail, science and technology, and health care. Nationally, small businesses represent 64 percent of net new private sector jobs, making entrepreneurs and small business leaders essential to delivering services and creating the job opportunities that are critical to our economy and local communities.

As a member of the Small Business Committee, Senator Booker is focused on helping New Jersey small businesses succeed. Through close coordination with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Senator Booker is working to bring renewed focus to the issue of accessing capital, and, particularly, the challenges facing many women and minority small business owners.

In Senator Booker's Newark and Camden offices, New Jerseyans and their families can request help with Small Business Administration related questions and issues. If you or a loved one would like assistance from Senator Booker's office with a casework issue, click here.

Wage Fairness
Senator Booker believes that anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to succeed in America. Senator Booker supports raising the minimum wage because he knows that when a family is able to earn a fair wage, they are able to create a more stable and healthier living environment for their children, to invest in our national economy, and to be involved in their communities.

Raising the minimum wage could cut the number of Americans living in poverty, jumpstart consumer spending and create jobs.

Consumer Protection
Senator Booker believes that consumers have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and that predatory and harmful debt collection tactics are unacceptable.

Senator Booker joined with a Republican colleague to introduce the bipartisan Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act of 2015, which would strengthen protections for ordinary consumers against predatory debt collection practices by collectors hired by the federal government.

Senator Booker is also working with his colleagues on addressing predatory practices and fees employed in the maintenance of prepaid cards, particularly for the formerly incarcerated.

Consumer protection around tax time is also an issue that Senator Booker is working to tackle. He introduced the Tax Refund Protection Act that aims to regulate tax preparers to ensure that low-income Americans are not subject to products that will drain their savings or tax refund.

Social Security and Retirement Security
Senator Booker is working to ensure that the promise of Social Security is preserved for generations to come.

He understands the vital role that Social Security plays in the lives of many New Jerseyans and knows that Social Security is an absolutely essential cornerstone of Americans' retirement plans. Senator Booker signed on as a cosponsor of the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act of 2015, which would help address the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for Americans in 2016.

Senator Booker is also fighting to make saving for retirement easier and ensure that Americans' retirement savings are not depleted by unnecessary fees and bad advice.

Senator Booker stood up to ensure that investment advisers are required to do what is in the best interest of their clients and pushed for an update to 40 year old rules governing retirement savings to better protect retirees.