‘Pay them more’: Biden uses stage whisper to tell business how to fix staff shortages

‘They (businesses) are going to have to compete and pay people a decent wage,’ the president says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Thursday 24 June 2021 22:02 BST

Biden encourages businesses to pay employees higher wages

President Joe Biden has encouraged businesses to fix staffing shortages with a simple solution: more money.

“Pay them more,” Mr Biden said in a stage whisper for dramatic effect. “This is an employees’ bargaining chip now.”

“They (businesses) are going to have to compete and pay people a decent wage,” the president continued.

Mr Biden’s statements came during a press conference the president held at the White House on Thursday to address the agreement Democrat and Republican senators reached regarding his infrastructure plan.

Mr Biden was asked his thoughts about businesses coming forward stating they were unable to convince their employees to come back after losing them during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans have blamed the federal government’s unemployment benefits amid the pandemic as a reason why workers were not returning to their initial posts.

When speaking about the employee shortage in May, Mr Biden said that the accelerating wage growth in America was a “feature” and not a “bug” of the economy as it moves away from the pandemic.

“When it comes to the economy we’re building, rising wages aren’t a bug, they’re a feature,” he said at the time.

Already several chain businesses like Chipotle have announced an increase to their minimum wage in an effort to entice workers back to the company.

Mr Biden has credited his American Rescue Plan and the Covid-19 vaccination campaign as to why the US economy could be jumping back to normal. But concern has been raised that increased wages could lead to inflation.

The Consumer Price Index, which is a gauge of broad inflation in the country, rose by 0.6 per cent in May. This despite estimations landing the gain at about 0.4 per cent.

The reading was the fastest rate of price growth since 2009, but Mr Biden has assured the public that the numbers being seen now would not likely stay as the economy stabilises.

“The overwhelming consensus is it’s going to pop up a little bit and then come back down,” he said.

Mr Biden made the comments about businesses paying their employees more on the heels of what looks to be a Biden administration success in orchestrating a bipartisan infrastructure package this week.

Several Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reached a compromise on a package that would provide funding for infrastructure like roads and bridges, as well as improve broadband access and clean energy changes.

The package, if passed in both the House and Senate, would also create more jobs for communities – if companies are able to find employees to take the jobs.

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