Bump into small-business owners and ask them about hurdles to hiring and job creation on Main Street. An answer that comes up is—extended unemployment benefits.
"You still have a segment of the population, as long as the unemployment benefits continue, why is somebody going to go out and get a job?" said Tilman Fertitta, chairman and chief executive of privately held Landry's. The dining and hospitality group spans 500 outlets and popular brands such as Landry's Seafood House, Chart House, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Claim Jumper, Morton's The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick's and Rainforest Cafe.
With extended unemployment benefits, many smaller employers find it challenging to fill jobs, when candidates can make more money not working.
"And they keep extending them, and extending them and extending them as a stimulus, but at the same point, when you reach a certain point of wage, I'm better off staying at home and not worrying about going to work," Fertitta said Wednesday on CNBC. "At some point we've got to stop the continuation of the unemployment."
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And what about the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 from the current $7.25 per hour? Would that help Main Street lure more workers off the unemployment lines?
"Sure. But at the same time, if they do some of the crazy things they're talking about doing with minimum wage, we're going to all be laying people off and you're going to see unemployment at 12 percent," Fertitta said. Landry's has roughly 50,000 employees in 34 states and 33 international locations.
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