March 12 (UPI) -- Many people, like me, depend on small businesses for their livelihood. With the current political climate in Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisle, businesses are at a standstill, especially with the coronavirus situation that's engrossing global markets.
Democrats and Republicans alike are responsible for our economy. And yet they disagree on what is most important in this moment. President Donald Trump and his administration have focused their energy on promoting exceptional job numbers and the lowest unemployment rate in our country's history. Democrats believe the economic growth does not pass along to the majority of Americans.
While all of this unfolds in Washington, we have businesses struggling with a different problem that has been decades in the making: lack of a skilled workforce. It is the No. 1 challenge facing the economy and small business owners/entrepreneurs as companies struggle to recruit, on-board, and up-skill workers. Labor shortages have resulted in higher costs for businesses and have forced companies to raise wages to better recruit and retain top talent. It is a sign that effective workforce training solutions are more important than ever.
Business owners want a more prepared and well-equipped workforce as we enter 2020. At a time when 2 in 3 millennials say they will switch jobs within the next 18 months, we need a workforce that can quickly respond to new jobs and properly re-skill in this rapidly shifting job environment. We need to be aware that technology will continue to kill jobs at faster rates if employees are not prepared. We need to understand that states that raise the minimum wage will run a big risk if they do this in accordance with passing labor laws that further motivate companies to replace workers with machines.
The 2020 presidential election is in the hands of small business owners. It is the responsibility of all business owners and entrepreneurs to demand specific plans from all candidates that address how they will handle the difficulty facing small business. Clear plans are needed, as well as specifics on how each candidate plans to turn the tide of our country's economy, especially as we and the world deal with the coronavirus and its effect on global markets.
As a voting bloc and the economic engine of America, small business owners are the swing vote at the ballot box. Not often realized, 99 percent of all independent enterprises in the country employ fewer than 500 employees, representing over 52.6 million U.S. workers. By contrast, 47.7 million Americans work for organizations with over 500 employees.
As the job-creation engine of America, small businesses employ more than half of the American workforce and have created more than 60 percent of all new jobs over the past 15 years. During this election cycle, it is our duty as small business owners and American citizens to make sure our candidates answer the tough questions on the economy.
A strong, growing and successful economy only happens when the over 70 million small business owners are doing well in this country. Let's continue the economic momentum for our small business owners, entrepreneurs and Main Street.
The days of clichés and empty rhetoric need to be put to rest. Actionable ideas and accountability should be and will be the new prerequisite for our country's greatest voice in the 21st century.
Sam Caucci is founder and CEO of workforce training platform 1HUDDLE.