Tim Gurner says he the unemployment rate needs to rise to remind workers who’s in charge.
A millionaire real estate CEO is being dragged online for saying he wants unemployment to increase.
“We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around,” Tim Gurner said.
In 2017, Gurner infamously said buying avocado toast was preventing people from becoming homeowners.
The millionaire CEO who infamously bashed aspiring millennial homeowners for buying avocado toast is back with another hot take that’s drawing outrage on the internet.
Tim Gurner, CEO of Australian real estate company Gurner Group, said at The Australian Financial Review Property Summit on Tuesday that workers need to be put in their place — potentially through unemployment.
“I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much anymore through COVID,” Gurner said. “They have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years, and we need to see that change.”
Gurner said the key to curbing what he views as “arrogance” in the labor market is higher unemployment.
“We need to see unemployment rise,” he said. “Unemployment has to jump 40, 50% in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around.”
In recent years, a tight labor market empowered workers to ask for more at work, like better pay and working conditions. But some leaders, like Gurner, have been fighting back. Mandating workers return to office, for example, has become a favorite way for some to regain power.
“There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around,” he added. “We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy.”
His remarks drew instant backlash.
“Some of the most evil people in the world are getting more arrogant,” one person said on X.
“Why doesn’t he do us a favour and volunteer his job as the first step to the 50%,” another person wrote.
Even Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in.
“Reminder that major CEOs have skyrocketed their own pay so much that the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is now at some of the highest levels *ever* recorded,” she wrote.
Last year, S&P 500 CEOs earned an average 272 times more than their workers, according to the latest Executive Paywatch report from the AFL-CIO. Those CEOs received $16.7 million in total compensation in 2022, on average, while US workers’ real hourly wages dropped for the second straight year, after adjusting for inflation, the report found.
This isn’t the first time Gurner has sparked an uproar online. In 2017, he suggested buying avocado toast was the impediment to millennials becoming homeowners, seemingly ignoring problems like massive student debt burdens or stagnant wages.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner told “60 Minutes Australia” at the time. “We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high.”
Gurner’s remarks quickly got the meme treatment, sparking countless posts about a hypothetical avocado toast-house trade-off.
In the words of one Twitter user at the time: “I was gonna put a down payment on a house last year but then I spent $44,000 on avocado toast.”
Gurner could not be reached for comment.