"Some say we are in an 'industrial recession,' but I don't really know what that means. I learn more from what I see in individual markets and hear from customers," he wrote. "Growth is available, but you have to work at it."
The annual report was released about a month after GE announced that it will be moving its global headquarters to Boston, selling its offices in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The decision capped a search that began last summer as Connecticut lawmakers passed a budget that increased taxes by $1.2 billion over two years, drawing protests from some of the state's biggest corporations.
Last June, Immelt said in an email to employees that he asked a team to examine the company's options to relocate headquarters to a state with a more "pro-business environment."
Immelt took the opportunity in his annual letter to stress that the current business cycle is the "worst" he has ever seen due to the difficult relationship between business and government.
"Technology, productivity and globalization have been the driving forces during my business career. In business, if you don't lead these changes, you get fired; in politics if you don't fight them, you can't get elected. As a result, most government policy is anti-growth," noted Immelt in the annual report.
The letter also featured a report from Immelt's "Global New Directions Team," a group of managers who advise the CEO on GE's culture.
"I have assembled a group of young leaders, whom I meet with frequently, to help me see GE through their eyes. It is my dream that every young person should want to come to work at our great company. I will never give up that dream," Immelt said.
— Reuters contributed to this report.