Why Trump’s $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut Hasn’t Sparked Hiring or Investment

January 28, 2019, 12:08 PM UTC

The Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts appears to have not made any major impact on businesses’ capital investment or hiring plans, according to a new survey.

A quarterly poll from the National Association for Business Economics published Monday found that some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, but a whopping 84% of respondents said they had not changed their plans. That’s up slightly from 81% in the previous survey published in October, Reuters reports.

The White House had said the massive stimulus package, which cut the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%, would boost business spending and job growth. The tax cuts that came into effect in January 2018 were the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.

“A large majority of respondents, 84%, indicate that one year after its passage, the corporate tax reform has not caused their firms to change hiring or investment plans,” NABE President Kevin Swift said in a release. “Fewer firms increased capital spending compared to the October survey responses, but the cutback appeared to be concentrated more in structures than in information and communication technology investments.”

The lower tax rates did have an impact in the goods-producing sector, NABE found, with 50% of respondents reporting increased investments at their companies, and 20% saying they redirected hiring and investments to the U.S. from abroad.

An analysis of how S&P 500 firms were reacting to the tax cut by researchers at the University of Michigan found that 4% of the sample said in Q1 of 2018 they would pay some of their tax savings back to workers, and 22% mentioned in earnings conference calls they would increase investment because of the tax cuts.

Though for small businesses, a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business released earlier this month found 61% of owners reported making capital investments, unchanged from last month but 5 points higher than in August. In December, 35% of small-business owners reported increasing employee compensation and 24% reported planned increases in the next few months.