As the U.S. Department of Labor posted a record-high number of open jobs for the second straight month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order last week to promote competition in the nation’s economy.
The economy has gained more than three million jobs since the president took office—the most jobs created in the first five months of any presidency in modern history, according to the White House.
While the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced slump, Biden says he’s focusing on making U.S. markets “more fair” by way of the order.
In a statement, the White House said that in over 75% of U.S. industries, a small number of large companies now control more of the business than they did twenty years ago.
“This is true across healthcare, financial services, agriculture and more,” the White House said.
“That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers. As fewer large players have controlled more of the market, mark-ups have tripled. Families are paying higher prices for necessities—things like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and internet service.”
They say barriers to competition are also driving down wages for workers. When there are only a few employers in town, workers have less opportunity to bargain for a higher wage and “to demand dignity and respect in the workplace.”
The rate of new business formation has fallen by almost 50% since the 1970s as large businesses make it harder for Americans with good ideas to break into markets, says the White House.
Economists find that as competition declines, productivity growth slows, business investment and innovation decline, and income, wealth and racial inequalities widen.
Biden’s executive order includes 72 initiatives from more than a dozen federal agencies that will include: banning or limiting workplace non-compete agreements; lower prescription drug prices by supporting state and tribal programs; banning excessive early termination fees by internet providers and ending landlord exclusivity arrangements that stick tenants with only a single internet option.
The order will also make it easier for people to get refunds from airlines and to comparison shop for flights by requiring clear upfront disclosure of add-on fees; allow the purchase of hearing aids over the counter and make it easier and cheaper to switch banks by requiring banks to allow customers to take their financial transaction data with them to a competitor.
The order calls on the leading antitrust agencies, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to enforce antitrust laws “vigorously” and recognize “that the law allows them to challenge prior bad mergers that past Administrations did not previously challenge.”
“We’re in the midst of a historic economic recovery and because our historic vaccination program has been working. … America’s now on track for the highest economic growth in 40 years,” said Biden during a press conference on Friday, July 9.
“But what we’ve seen over the past few decades are more concentrations and monopolies that hold our economy back. We see it in big agriculture, big tech and big pharma, the list goes on.”
Biden said rather than competing for consumers companies are consuming their competitors. And rather than competing for workers, they’re finding ways to gain the upper hand on labor. He added that too often the government has also made it harder for new companies to break in and compete.
“We’re bringing fair competition back to the economy,” he said. “Taking another critical step in an economy that works for everybody. Better prices and services, new ideas and products. Fair competition.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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