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Finding Employees With 'Soft Skills' a Challenge for Texas Small Businesses, According to Dallas Fed Poll

Second annual Texas Small Business Needs Assessment Poll finds Texas firms continue to be optimistic about business environment in 2015

For immediate release: May 4, 2015

DALLAS—Employees with interpersonal skills are the top need for small businesses in Texas, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ second annual Texas Small Business Needs Assessment Poll.

The Bank released the poll today, the first day of National Small Business Week. Small businesses account for about half of private sector jobs in Texas, according to a 2014 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Finding the right employees ranked as the top concern affecting Texas small businesses’ ability to grow, according to poll results. Businesses listed interpersonal skills as their number one sought-after ability for employees, followed by sales and marketing skills, punctuality and reliability.

“A lot of emphasis is placed on educating young people for the workforce through vocational training, but what’s clear from our poll is that soft skills, like professionalism and reliability, are important, too,” said Emily Ryder Perlmeter, Dallas Fed community development analyst.

Access to credit was also an important issue affecting business growth, the poll found. Minority or women-owned businesses (MWBEs) are much more likely to rely on personal savings and credit cards than non-MWBEs, which rely more on commercial bank loans.

The poll also asked businesses about key indicators of business performance. Small businesses in Texas are overwhelmingly optimistic about business performance moving forward, and the majority of businesses saw sales and revenue increases in 2014, poll results show.

The poll, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in partnership with the Texas Small Business Development Center Network, asked more than 1,400 small-business owners from more than 100 counties across Texas about firm size, performance, financing and employee skill gaps. The majority of businesses sampled were microbusinesses, with one to five employees, and 35 percent were MWBEs. Poll data was gathered the last three months of 2014.

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Media contact:
Alexander Johnson
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Phone: 214-922-5288
Email: alexander.johnson@dal.frb.org