Weekly Economic Report Shows Continued Dampened Activity
Significant headwinds, such as weak economic growth abroad, a significantly strengthened U.S. dollar, the sharp drop in crude oil prices, winter storms and the West Coast ports slowdown, has resulted in a continued deceleration of economic activity in the early months of 2015. While the final figures are not in, the real GDP growth in Q1 of 2015 will likely land around 1.8 percent, less than the 2.2 percent real GDP growth rate seen in Q4 of 2014. Fortunately, the manufacturing sector is expected to see some rebounds moving forward and the outlook continues to be upbeat. To learn more, visit here.
H-1B Visa Application Window is Now Open
The H-1B visa application process, the national program in place to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations (such as scientists, engineers and computer programmers), opened on April 1. Like past years, enough applications will likely be filed to exceed the annual cap of 85,000. According to USAVisaNow.com, the H-1B visa cap quota has been reached much faster in recent years: It took 236 days for fiscal year 2012, 72 days for fiscal year 2013 and only 5 days for both fiscal years 2014 and 2015. To learn more, visit here.
Repeal of Estate "Death Tax" Introduced in the Senate
Last week, budget resolution amendment 607 was proposed to the Senate in an effort to repeal the "death tax," nicknamed as such because of the law's burdensome estate tax on an owner's right to transfer property after death. Passed by a vote of 54-26, the new legislation would fully repeal the death tax and allow for more family-owned and run operations to survive to future generations. A companion bill, H.R. 1105, is awaiting consideration by the full House of Representatives. To learn more, visit here.
U.S. Submits Climate Change Plan to the United Nations
Global greenhouse gas (GHG) politics, economics and realities all came together last week when the United States submitted its Climate Change Plan to the United Nations. The United States leads the world in reducing GHG emissions, and while this is admirable, without a strong international agreement that includes binding commitments from all major emitting nations, we alone will not be able to reduce GHGs globally. For example, the United States' progress in lowering our domestic emissions from 2005 has been offset, by a factor of four, from increased emissions from China alone during that period. To learn more, visit here.