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Acting U.S. commerce secretary visits Macy's center in Martinsburg

Rebecca Blank said taxes on the average American family would increase by $2,200 next year if 'fiscal cliff' is not addressed

December 06, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the new Macy's distribution center in Martinsburg, W.Va., Thursday.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, in a visit to the new Macy’s distribution center in Martinsburg, said taxes on the average American family would increase by $2,200 next year if the “fiscal cliff” is not addressed.

“That isn’t going to make shopping easy,” Blank said in prepared remarks after touring the 1.3-million-square-foot facility with Macy’s officials at Cumbo Yard Industrial Park near Martinsburg.

Blank said multiple tax cuts would expire and wage earners would see less in their paychecks immediately at the beginning of the year.

In highlighting various aspects of President Obama’s plan to address the deficit crisis, Blank said Congress needs to give the middle class confidence “especially at this critically important time of year when we’re all inclined to give the economy a little boost with our holiday shopping.”

If the fiscal cliff issue isn’t addressed, Blank said consumers next year are projected to spend $200 billion less and companies such as Macy’s would be affected.

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In a brief press conference, Blank said she came to tour the Martinsburg facility because it is a “real symbol of the economic recovery of the new job growth that we’re experiencing and also relatively convenient to Washington, D.C., so it made (for) a quick trip.”

About 1,300 full-time and seasonal workers currently are employed at the distribution facility, which fulfills orders placed by customers via the Internet, Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski said Thursday.

The facility opened this summer and now is operating at a third of its capacity with about 100,000 products being shipped per day, Sluzewski said.

Sluzewski said the company is still “on target” to ultimately employ 1,200 workers year round, plus 700 seasonal workers during the holidays.

“This is a cool facility — it’s both really fascinating to just see the sheer size — you look down some of these rows and its multiple football fields down,” Blank said when asked of her impressions of the fulfillment center.

Blank said in her speech that more than 5.5 million new jobs had been created in the last 32 months.

“We want to see companies like Macy’s and their many suppliers adding to American job growth,” Blank said.

Since the recession ended in June 2009, the retail sector has accounted for almost 10 percent of all employment growth, Blank said.

“We want American businesses to stay busy this holiday season and beyond,” Blank said.

“One of the best ways we can build on the job growth we’ve seen is to address the fiscal issue in a balanced and equitable way,” Blank said in her remarks. 

Separate from the fiscal cliff’s potential impact on consumer spending, Blank said government spending cuts would be deeper for the defense department than other agencies if the deficit crisis is not addressed.

Blank said she has served as deputy commerce secretary since June.

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