The FTC wants to unlock the labor market

Banning non-competes could raise wages by $400 billion over a decade

Hello investors! If you’re new here, add your email below to get every edition of Opening Bell Daily in your inbox, free.

Good morning!

Tesla’s first-quarter earnings came in shaky Tuesday, but the stock surged double-digits after hours.

Investors will be watching Meta’s results this afternoon.

Today we have some counter-programming during a busy earnings season — but it’s still relevant for any American who has a job.

Today’s letter is brought to you by iTrust Capital

Bitcoin has been one of the best-performing assets of the last decade. Yet if you turn to a traditional exchange, you have to pay taxes.

iTrust Capital offers tax-advantaged accounts so you can save money on taxes while still investing in crypto. Long-term investors understand the power of an IRA.

The American work force, unlocked?

FTC bans non-competes, employee wage growth

Made with AI by Opening Bell Daily

The Federal Trade Commission wants to let Americans change jobs without sweating their old employers.

On Tuesday, the agency moved to stop companies from using non-compete clauses for most individuals.

“These non-competes aren’t just hurting workers, they are thwarting fair competition,” FTC Commissioner Lina Khan said in a statement.

At first glance, this reads like a policy story — but there’s a compelling economic angle.

Roughly 31 million Americans are currently working under non-compete clauses.

That means 18% of the total workforce may get a new-found ability to switch jobs — and secure higher salaries in the process.

Early estimates from the FTC suggest that a labor market free from non-competes could see wages grow by more than $400 billion over the next decade.

It does seem plausible that if a greater number of people could earn more money via unrestrained job changes and frequent raises, more capital would flow through the economy.

In this scenario, the FTC expects new business formation to grow by 2.7% annually, “resulting in more than 8,500 additional new businesses created each year.”

Higher wages mean more confident consumers and more spending.

But it’s also true higher wages could eventually spark higher inflation.

In any case, officials at the Chamber of Commerce have already threatened to block the rule in court.

They said banning non-competes would “undermine American businesses’ ability to remain competitive.”

Maybe that’s true for corporations, but it’s not clear the same can be said for employees. 

Nixing non-competes implies more competing — a good thing for healthy free markets, in theory.

Indeed, research from the University of Maryland found that some states that already have bans on non-compete clauses have seen wages jump 4%.

Results are sure to vary by sector. Capital Alpha highlighted the American Medical Group Association, which contends that non-competes “promote team-based care” in hospitals.

“A ban could also affect health care M&A deal prices if there’s no guarantee employees are required to stay for a certain period of time,” the strategists said.

Independent doctors, meanwhile, say the clauses harm patient care, and eliminating them could restore balance between giant health care systems and physicians.

*At a glance:

*Market data as of 1:00 a.m. ET


  • Investors are fleeing Ark Invest. Cathie Wood’s actively managed ETFs have seen $2.2 billion in outflows so far this year. That’s more outflows than the funds saw in 2022 and 2023 combined. (Barron’s)

  • TikTok isn’t going away just yet. US lawmakers have given the social platform’s Chinese owners one year to sell the app. If that doesn’t happen, 170 million Americans will get more free time. (WSJ)

  • Tesla wasn’t the only car giant with earnings Tuesday. Shares of General Motors climbed more than 4% in trading following an upbeat outlook for the year ahead. (CNN)

Rapid-fire headlines:

  • Tesla is planning a ride-hailing app (WSJ)

  • Boeing reports earnings before the bell today (CNBC)

  • The Senate has sent the huge foreign aid package to Biden (Axios)

  • Spotify stock rallied 11% after crushing earnings (WSJ)

  • Here’s what Wall Street expects from Meta (Business Insider)

Last thing:

Interested in advertising in Opening Bell Daily? Email [email protected]