America's economic growth depends on ports for a competitive edge in exports and for the flow of imported goods that bolster Americans' paychecks. The costs incurred during slowdowns at U.S. ports, recent and otherwise, highlight the considerable importance of ports to the U.S. economy and the need to reform U.S. port labor law. Indeed, if America is to reap the benefits of the two major new free-trade deals currently under negotiation, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), U.S. ports must be open for business.
Federal Reserve policy statements provide a favorable outlook for the U.S. economy with solid economic growth, strong job gains, and renewed momentum heading into 2015. Real gross domestic product, our broadest measure of inflation-adjusted income and spending, grew at an annualized rate very close to 4 percent for the final three quarters of the year just past. More than 3.5 million new jobs have been created, on net, since the beginning of 2014, and at 5.5 percent, the unemployment rate is down more than a full percentage point from 12 months ago. Propelled by these strong fundamentals, and undoubtedly helped along by falling energy prices, too, real disposable personal income growth has accelerated and measures of consumer confidence have moved sharply higher.