(NEXSTAR) – An IHOP location in Wasilla, Alaska, is generating controversy after its management posted a sign that blamed President Biden for its alleged lack of available staff.
A photograph of the paper sign, posted to Twitter over the weekend, shows that it was displayed near the front of the restaurant.
“Due to the fact that Biden gave out way to [sic] much free money and nobody wants to work anymore. We are forced to reduce our hours during the week,” reads a message, which also included a schedule of the restaurant’s reduced operational hours.
IHOP confirmed to Nexstar that the sign was displayed at a franchised location in Wasilla last month, but said it was “immediately removed” after the company was made aware. IHOP did not disclose whether anyone was disciplined or terminated as a result of the sign.
“This was an unauthorized act of one individual and does not represent the viewpoints of IHOP or the local Franchisee,” a spokesperson for IHOP wrote in an emailed statement.
IHOP also declined to specify how long the sign was on display before the company was made aware and had it removed. However, news of the sign came to the attention of Twitter over the weekend in a now-deleted tweet that included a photo of the printout.
The tweet soon garnered hundreds of responses, with a few echoing the management’s sentiments. Most others, however, were critical of the message. Many pointed out that it was President Trump who began doling out “free money” — aka stimulus payments — amid the pandemic. Others pointed to data collected by ProPublica, which indicated that dozens of IHOP franchisees across the country were recipients of government loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, many of which were forgiven (in full or in part).
Plenty of commenters also suggested that lower wages — and not “free money” — could be the reason behind staffing shortages at IHOP. IHOP’s spokesperson did not respond to a question of possible staffing shortages, or possible causes, at the Wasilla location.
Unemployment benefits, and recent supplements and extensions, have long been blamed for current restaurant shortages. However, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit think-tank based in Washington, D.C., had determined earlier this year that slow job growth had little to do with continued unemployment aid, but rather continued health concerns and an “outflow” of workers — primarily women — from employment due to caregiving concerns.
The EPI also said in May 2021 that lower-wage jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, “where UI benefits should be a more binding constraint on labor supply,” actually saw faster job growth when compared to other sectors, per the jobs report.