Houston Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta Slams Enhanced Unemployed Benefits: Americans Have No Incentive To Work

Amnon Free Press

Landry’s CEO and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on Tuesday slammed President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan for extending enhanced unemployment benefits. According to Fertitta, businesses across the nation are struggling to hire people because some unemployed people don’t want a job.

The hospitality executive stated his businesses in Texas, thanks to the economy reopening, are up 2% in revenue compared to the same time in April of 2019. The problem, however, is he’s struggling to hire employees.

“… what we’re all fighting, of course, is there’s [sic] no employees out there, and now you’ve got the new American Jobs Act for the infrastructure that is going to make the labor market even tougher,” Fertitta told CNBC anchor Tyler Mathisen. “What’s amazing, Tyler, is our average wage for non-tipped employees is $14.50 an hour. Our problem [is we’re] running at 6% to 7% unemployment. That 6% to 7% doesn’t want a job. You can get a job in any industry you want basically right now.”

Mathisen pointed out that he has repeatedly seen retail businesses, like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and local restaurants, with “ads and banners” advertising open positions.

“Do you attribute most of that inability to attract workers to the ideas that workers are receiving and riding on unemployment benefits?” the CNBC host asked.

“100%,” Fertitta replied without hesitation. “It’s the extra $300 a week. When I first said this on CNBC a few weeks ago. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy, and then they all realized that this is what’s happening. There is [sic] no employees out there. We are offering bonuses everywhere.”

“At the same time, my casinos are having record-breaking months, okay. That’s stimulus, guys. That’s where your money is going,” the CEO explained. “It’s going out there to all of your high-end department stores, your Louis Vuittons, your Chanels, all your high-end steakhouses, all your high-end hotels. In the last week, I have traveled to Philly, to New York to L.A., and I see what is going out there, and it’s not just happening in Houston. People are spending money everywhere.”

According to Fertitta, inflation is going to hit consumers hard as businesses struggle to hire employees.

“You’re getting ready to have huge inflation for the consumer because the people in the slaughterhouses, the people raising the chickens, the people raising your produce, they can’t find employees, so they can only produce so much,” he explained. “So what happens? They raise the price to the consumer. Businesses like mine, which is retail, which is restaurants, which is hotels, and on and on and on, then what happens? We have to raise the price to the consumer. We have to pay more, so therefore you’ve built yourself in the inflation that you always wanted, it looks like.”

The Rockets owner said Americans are itching to get back to a pre-COVID “normal,” meaning they want to travel and spend money, which is good for businesses like his.

“This is going to be the Roaring 20s. It’s happening right now and if the government wants to keep giving out the stimulus to everybody, keep giving it out because I didn’t get any PPP money. I got no support from the government but they’re giving it to me right now through the stimulus,” he said with a laugh. “So all of the consumer businesses that didn’t take [PPP loans] are happy to take it.”

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was passed and signed into law last month, extends enhanced unemployment benefits until September. During this period, Americans qualify for $300 per week in unemployment on top of the unemployment he or she receives from their state benefits.

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