Angry employers fired back at President Biden for telling a restaurant owner Wednesday night at a CNN townhall that he should raise wages to address the labor shortage.
Biden seemed to acknowledge the impact of federal unemployment benefits on the shortage, but he told the restaurant owner, John Lanni, that people aren't working in restaurants because they're considering "other opportunities" for employment.
Restaurant owners on Thursday didn't like Biden's reponse, contending it showed how little he understands about running a business and the country's labor crisis, DailyMail.com reported.
Twenty-six states have ended the federal benefits and already have seen a rise in employment. But more than 12 million people are claiming unemployment across the nation compared to 5.8 million in 2019.
DailyMail.com noted that the states with the highest unemployment rates are run by Democrats: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York, as well as the District of Columbia.
With the additional $300 per week provided by the latest COVID stimulus package on top of state benefits, the unemployed often can earn more than people who are working at minimum wage.
The House Committee on Small Business Republicans said on Twitter that Biden's "patronizing response to this struggling restaurant owner proves how out of touch he really is."
John Stratidis, the manager of The Famous Cozy Soup 'n' Burger in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, told DailyMail.com on Thursday he hasn't been able to hire back most of the staff he let go in COVID.
But raising wages will punish consumers and cause some restaurants to go out of business, he said.
"When minimum wage goes up, who do you think is going to pay for that? The customer," Stratidis said. "Everything is going to go up just to be able to stay in business. When we give more money, the prices go up and when the prices go up who's going to pay for that?"
A spokesman for the National Restaurant Association told DailyMail.com the fear expressed by Lanni at the townhall is shared by employers across the nation.
"Restaurants aren't like other small businesses; they run on very tight margins, so any change in operating costs jeopardizes their stability," said Sean Kennedy, the association's executive vice president of public affairs.
"In most communities," he continued, "the demand for workers is pushing wages significantly higher, and restaurant operators are doing their best to offer competitive wages in this new environment, but they’re also balancing skyrocketing food costs and debt from operating in the red for the last year."
Kennedy said higher wages alone "won't solve the problem when there aren’t enough people in the labor pool to fill the millions of open jobs."
See the exchange with the restaurant owner:
Joe Biden tells a small business owner that his industry is "really going to be in a bind for a little while," and goes on to say that if he wants to hire workers, he'll just have to pay a $15/hr minimum wage: pic.twitter.com/d2uoDsLaVo
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) July 22, 2021
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