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Jobs panel proposes ways to spur hiring

General Electric Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt poses for a portrait during an interview with Reuters in his office at
General Electric Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt poses for a portrait during an interview with Reuters in his office at

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington should streamline permitting for construction projects and make it easier for tourists to visit the United States to help boost hiring and spur the economy, a top adviser to President Barack Obama said.

Jeff Immelt, chief executive of General Electric and head of Obama's jobs and competitiveness council, said his panel's "progress report" outlined ways to increase hiring in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and tourism sectors.

Obama will meet the jobs council during a trip to North Carolina on Monday.

The proposals to increase hiring included cutting red tape so infrastructure construction projects could proceed quickly, boosting training for manufacturing skills through partnerships between the private sector and community colleges, and improving visa processes to win market share for U.S. tourism.

Making commercial buildings throughout the United States more energy efficient would also create jobs, Immelt wrote in an opinion piece co-written with American Express chief executive Ken Chenault.

The opinion piece was released by the White House on Sunday ahead of publication in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

"Our objective for this first set of recommendations was to identify areas where the private sector and the administration could accelerate job creation immediately without the need for major legislation from Congress or actions that would have a long runway," the two men wrote.

"Over the next 90 days, we will turn to addressing the actions needed to make a more significant, longer-term impact."

With congressional Republicans determined to cut government spending in return for raising the country's $14.3 trillion debt limit, there is little likelihood of additional public cash to finance fresh hiring.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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