As I was saying …

Creating roofing jobs

With renewed interest in job creation, we offer some free advice to the Obama administration and Congress.

We couldn't agree more the country's most pressing need is to create jobs, and it's obvious there are a number of ways to do so. Most of the talk has focused on either increasing government spending to stimulate growth or reforming or reducing taxes to encourage investment. Whichever we choose, we believe the solution must be a fix for the long term.

Offering tax credits for hiring people sounds great, but it won't lead to any actual hiring until and unless the economy improves to a point where hiring makes sense. No one we know will hire people just to get a tax break.

Proposing to increase taxes on the "wealthy," including households with incomes of $250,000 or more, strikes us as counterproductive. Many of those "wealthy" people own Subchapter S corporations, so increasing their taxes takes money directly out of their businesses. That's not helpful to job creation.

Reducing payroll taxes and allowing for accelerated depreciation sounds nice, too, and should help some businesses improve their bottom lines. But jobs only get filled when there is work to be done. Reducing payroll taxes mostly will benefit consumers, but it's unclear whether they will spend that savings—a stimulus—or simply use it to pay down debt.

Roofing contracting companies, like all U.S. businesses, we suspect, would like nothing more than to hire people and help the economy. But hiring people for the short term is a terribly risky proposition given all the immigration and other employment law issues facing employers. The last thing employers want to do is hire people for short-term benefit and face wrongful discharge litigation if they are forced to let them go.

But what concerns us most is the giant cloud of uncertainty hanging over us. We don't know what our tax liability will be next year or beyond. We don't know how we are expected to comply with impending health care requirements. We don't know what new regulations we'll be facing and, frankly, the anti-business attitude of some regulators has a chilling effect on companies trying to do the right thing. And we don't know whether lenders will be coming back to the table or whether private owners will be reinvesting in their buildings.

Until we have more clarity on the issues, it is unlikely much hiring will be done. Meanwhile, we wish you well in your deliberations.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.


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