- Domino's Pizza CEO Ritch Allison told CNBC's Jim Cramer the American restaurant industry is being hurt by a slowdown in immigration.
- "In the U.S. with minimal population growth organically, we do — we need immigration in our industry to continue to have enough team members," Allison said.
- Cramer on Friday called his conversation with Allison "sobering" and "shocking."
"It's a challenge. In the U.S. with minimal population growth organically, we do — we need immigration in our industry to continue to have enough team members," Allison said on "Mad Money."
"Folks who want to work hard, want to stay with the business for a long period of time, can end up being owners and entrepreneurs," he added. "As I travel around the country and talk to our franchisees, so many of whom followed that [immigration] path, it's inspiring. ... It truly is."
Allison's comments Thursday came after the pizza chain reported third-quarter results, beating Wall Street's expectations on earnings per share but falling short on revenue and same-store sales. The company's U.S. same-store sales actually declined for the first time in a decade, falling 1.9% on a year-over-year basis.
Domino's attributed some of the domestic sales dip to challenges around hiring workers to adequately staff its stores. It served as the latest example of companies calling attention to the difficulties of filling open jobs as the economy recovers from a pandemic-induced recession.
In his Friday morning note to CNBC Investing Club members, Cramer wrote: "The labor shortage issue is VERY serious... need more births and immigration, according to DPZ CEO Ritch Allison last night on Mad Money."
Reflecting further on conversations with Allison, Cramer said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday that it was "shocking" and "sobering."
"Ritch Allison started, I think, a conversation that we're all going to have to talk about," Cramer said. "We don't have population growth in this country. ... But more importantly, he's saying, we cut off immigration. We stopped it, but the great thing about our country is immigrants come in, they become drivers. Next thing you know they own a Domino's, then they own several places. That's ending. We literally have to start thinking about an immigration policy that involves taking in people."
"Think about that. What kind of discussion is that when, not that long ago, the idea was that we've got to keep people out," Cramer continued, alluding to former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration stance.
In 2016, the year Trump was elected president, net international migration added just over 1 million people to the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau. In 2019, that number fell to a decade low of 595,000.
According to the 2020 Census, the U.S. population grew by 7.4% between 2010 and 2020, which is the slowest growth rate since the 1930s, when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression.