Why Are CEOs Hesitant to Hire?

Home Depot co-founder on job creation in America


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": You know forget poll numbers that change a lot in this fine state and city, Sioux City, Iowa, right now. The one thing that is most remarkable that I see in these is the reluctance on the part of so many corporate bosses to hire, period.

That number is more like this. Two out of three, better than 60 percent of the nation's premier CEOs, say they have no intention of hiring in this environment.

Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, thinks he knows why. He joins us right now.

Bernie, what is the problem with these guys?

BERNIE MARCUS, CO-FOUNDER, HOME DEPOT: Well, look, these CEOs are worried about the CEO that's going to run this country. And whether you know it or not, that has an effect on how people plan for the future. And they are very, very unsure.

As I told you before, people talk about the fact that the uncertainty is stopping them from hiring and growing and acquisitions, and it is not true. What is stopping them is the certainty, the fact that they are looking forward to higher taxes, they are looking forward to Obamacare, they are looking forward to Dodd-Frank, which is going to affect the economy.

And they are sitting down and making plans for the next two, three, four years. Unlike the government, unlike the Congress and unlike the president, they do not live one year to the next and do not have the ability to do a knee-jerk reaction. They sit down and make plans for the future.

And right now, universally, they are just not planning for anything. They are sitting back and they're waiting. And they know that the shoe is going to drop. They know that if there are four more years of Obama, they are looking forward to higher taxes, they are looking for a stronger NLRB, they are looking for unionization.

They're knowing that the EPA is going to have stronger regulations. And so it doesn't look good right now for corporations. That means that job creation is not happening. And that is the serious part. And that is what everybody in this country should understand, that if the companies aren't hiring and if small businesses are not growing, this country is not going to have a very good future.

CAVUTO: All right, but some of your more shall we say liberal colleagues, Bernie, say, well, things have been percolating a little bit, not much. But the job growth has been moving up, again, not much, but more than it had been, and that, if you will pardon my overused term here, the trend is the economy and maybe the White House's friend.

What do you think?

MARCUS: Look, it depends on who you listen to.

I heard Debbie Wasserman Schultz the other day talking about the fact that, well, unemployment is moving down and we are going in the right direction. Meanwhile, 300-and-some-odd-thousand people went off the rolls and are not even looking for jobs anymore.

I can give you a situation right here in this place that I am living at where somebody was let go recently, and they were offered a job at a little bit less money, and said, oh, no, I'm not going to do that. I would rather go on unemployment for two years.

And so we have people who, it is easier not to work and get unemployment for a couple of years than go out and bust your back and do things that maybe you wouldn't have done.

When I went through college, I waited on tables. It wasn't -- and I wanted to be a doctor, and I ended up as a pharmacist, but the truth is, I waited on tables to pay for my college education. And there are many people out there, they just want -- don't want to do what they don't want to do.

And sometimes when you have to take care of your family and earn a living, you have to do things that you normally wouldn't. And I think this is an issue in America, and the entitlement -- the entitlement feeling that people are having is very bad.

Now, we have 20 million people out there. Many of them want to work. But many of them don't have the skills. And if you read the papers recently, you hear about manufacturers, you hear about employers that need certain skills and cannot find them.

Well, we're producing a lot of MBAs and a lot of Ph.D.s, but nobody knows how to use a blowtorch. Nobody knows how to do some of the real rudimentary things that have to be done out there. There are jobs, but it is just something that maybe wasn't in your plans.

I don't think the economy looks good. I don't think it looks good for the future. And I hope I'm -- and I'm basically -- I'm an entrepreneur, so I'm an optimist. I don't really see any way out of this. And unless we have a change in Washington...

CAVUTO: Let me ask you this, then, Bernie.

MARCUS: Yes. Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: OK. I'm sorry, but we're crunched for time here.

Do you think that you could come up with a Home Depot today in this environment, the way it is right now, today?

MARCUS: No, no, no. There is no way, because of a lot of things, Dodd-Frank, because of Sarbanes-Oxley, because of the lack -- the inability to give options the way they did before, because of the regulations and the litigation, the labor laws that we have. No.

We started in 1978-'79, we did not have these problems. And this is what is facing America today.


CAVUTO: But, Bernie, you had a lot of problems back then. You had an economy mired in a recession as bad as things get, and you got it going.

MARCUS: Yeah, but you know what? America wanted to help you. America wanted to let you grow. And things were not out there.

We didn't have this anti-business attitude that we have today in America. And it is permeating not only in the government. It is starting in our schools as well. Kids are being taught that capitalism -- and, God, I am sorry I used the word -- I mean the free enterprise system -- that that is a bad thing. It is not a bad thing.


MARCUS: It is almost you are like afraid to use the word. But that is why we started the Job Creators Alliance.

And the reason for that was that we wanted businesspeople to be able to go out and talk about not only what the federal government is doing to them, but what local governments and state governments and all the regulations that they have to go through.

And I would hope that somebody, whoever is going to be president of the United States, whether it be any of these people that are leading, whether it is Ron Paul, or Mitt Romney or Newt, will have a plan in place because they are gonna have to hit the ground running. If you think about it, between now and January, that is a long way. And then it takes so many months to get things rolling. This country is in a malaise right now.

CAVUTO: Alright, well, I didn't know about the doctor thing. I always wondered whatever became of you. It is good to know.

Bernie Marcus, always a pleasure, my friend. Be well.

MARCUS: Good seeing you. Take care.

CAVUTO: Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot. That was then; this is now -- multibillionaire now, starting at the worst of times.

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