While there are many other important issues on the agenda, the most pressing need for the millions of out-of-work American families struggling to put dinner on the table is a job. Even though jobs grew in January, the increase in the unemployment rate showed that many Americans still can’t find work.
As the industry that already supports one out of every four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans – retail is doing its part to put America back to work. Retailers hired half a million workers during the holiday season, and Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, recently promised to give a job to every honorably discharged returning veteran who asks for one.
Other retailers are quietly conducting hiring programs of their own. But NRF cannot do it alone. NRF needs Washington to embrace policy positions that help with job creation, and to remove barriers that stand in the way.
NRF is forecasting that retail sales – the daily barometer of U.S. economy – will grow 3.4 percent in 2013. But that number could be significantly higher if not for the payroll tax hike that took effect in January, a Medicare tax hike under health care reform, and the decision during the fiscal cliff debate to raise taxes on the “wealthy” that will harm many not-so-wealthy small business owners.
With job creation and the economy in mind and on behalf of the retail industry and the millions of jobs it supports, NRF respectfully requests President Obama for support on the following initiatives:
- Take advantage of the temporary suspension of the debt ceiling to avoid the drama seen during the fiscal cliff debate and instead craft a fiscal plan for the country that provides both a debt ceiling increase and certainty on comprehensive tax reform in 2013. Economic uncertainty helped hold 2012 holiday season retail sales growth a full percentage point lower than forecast, and must not be repeated.
- Avoid the federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1. In the long term, federal spending must be reduced to balance the budget, but poorly timed government spending cuts played a major role in this week’s poor GDP showing. Congress should adopt a budget and provide for an orderly process for adopting long-term spending reforms as opposed to the blunt budget ax of sequestration.
- Pass comprehensive tax reform that eliminates tax breaks that benefit only a few industries in return for lower tax rates for all businesses large and small alike. Lower taxes will make U.S. companies more competitive and boost job creation.
- Create an immigration system that is agile and responsive and addresses the needs of employers and today’s workforce.
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