Tax inversions are 'shortsighted': Labor Secretary

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he believes corporate inversions are "unfair and shortsighted."

Asked by CNBC whether the practice of American companies incorporating in foreign countries to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates could contribute to job losses, the secretary said: "We need to be focused in corporate America on the long term," and not short-term gain for shareholders.

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Citing a recent conversation with a Fortune 50 CEO, Perez recalled the story of an outspoken shareholder who told the CEO, "I'd rather be rich than right."

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez
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Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez

Touting 53 consecutive months of private sector job growth, including some 650,000 new jobs created in higher-paying business and professional services roles, Perez said he believes that American consumers across political ideologies could respond unfavorably to the companies that complete inversions.

"People have choices," he said. "They are going to vote with their feet."

"You can be right and you can be quite rich, as well, and still take care of your workers and put out a good product," he said.

—By CNBC's Katie Kramer