Skip to content

Special Questions

Special Questions

May 28, 2019

Results below include responses from participants of all three surveys: Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, Texas Service Sector Outlook Survey and Texas Retail Outlook Survey.

Report in PDF

Texas Business Outlook Surveys

Data were collected May 14–22, and 372 Texas business executives responded to the surveys.
See data files with a full history of results.

What annual percent change in wages, input prices and selling prices did your firm experience in 2018 and what do you expect for 2019?

Downloadable chart | Chart data

      May ’19
(percent)
Wages       3.8
Input prices (excluding wages)       3.2
Selling prices       2.9

NOTES: 296 responses. Shown are trimmed means with the lowest and highest 5 percent of responses omitted.

What, if anything, are you doing to recruit and retain employees? Please check all that apply.

May ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increasing wages and/or benefits 61.6 63.4 66.6 62.7
Increasing wages 61.9 58.3
Intensifying recruiting, including advertising, paying recruiting bonuses, utilizing employment agencies, etc. 52.6 59.6 60.7 49.5
Offering additional training 27.8 36.6 35.9 32.9
Increasing variable pay, including bonuses 31.5 26.8 29.1 32.3
Improving working conditions 27.2 25.9 27.6 30.1
Increasing benefits 20.1 17.9
Reducing education and other requirements for new hires 8.3 12.9 12.1 8.5

NOTES: 319 responses. Starting in November 2018, "increasing wages" appears as a separate answer choice from 'increasing benefits.' We will continue to include the share of firms reporting increasing wages and/or benefits but as a calculation based on responses to "increasing wages" and 'increasing benefits.'

Are you currently trying to hire?

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       71.4
No       28.6

NOTE: 370 responses.

Are you having problems finding qualified workers when hiring?*

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       83.0
No       17.0

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 259 responses.

If you are you having problems finding qualified workers, what are the main reasons why? Please select all that apply.*

Feb. ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants 62.6 72.8 70.6 62.9
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills) 50.2 47.0 43.3 53.1
Looking for more pay than is offered 40.1 41.4 45.0 46.9
Lack of experience 37.0 37.1 40.7 39.4
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 39.6 34.5 39.0 33.8
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check 30.0 31.0 32.5 32.9

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 213 responses.

At your firm, what is the average hourly wage paid for each category?

      May ’19
(percent)
Low-skill positions (typically require high school diploma or less and minimal work experience)       $13.00/hour
Mid-skill positions (typically require some college or technical training)       $20.00/hour
High-skill positions (typically require college degree or higher)       $34.25/hour

NOTES: 249 responses. Shown are the median values.

How has your firm’s operating margin (defined as earnings before interest and taxes [EBIT] as a share of total revenue) changed over the past six months?

    Dec. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increased substantially     7.2 6.2
Increased slightly     23.1 22.9
Remained the same     24.4 29.1
Decreased slightly     34.2 33.6
Decreased substantially     11.1 8.2

NOTE: 354 responses.

Survey respondents were given the opportunity to provide comments. These comments can be found on the individual survey Special Questions results pages, accessible by the tabs above.

Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey

Data were collected May 14–22, and 110 Texas manufacturers responded to the surveys.
See data files with a full history of results.

What annual percent change in wages, input prices and selling prices did your firm experience in 2018 and what do you expect for 2019?

Downloadable chart | Chart data

      May ’19
(percent)
Wages       3.9
Input prices (excluding wages)       3.1
Selling prices       2.7

NOTES: 97 responses. Shown are trimmed means with the lowest and highest 5 percent of responses omitted.

What, if anything, are you doing to recruit and retain employees? Please check all that apply.

May ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increasing wages and/or benefits 55.8 64.3 68.4 67.0
Increasing wages 63.3 59.6
Intensifying recruiting, including advertising, paying recruiting bonuses, utilizing employment agencies, etc. 53.5 67.3 61.2 54.3
Increasing variable pay, including bonuses 26.7 21.4 24.5 34.0
Offering additional training 30.2 38.8 32.7 28.7
Improving working conditions 24.4 24.5 30.6 24.5
Increasing benefits 16.3 16.0
Reducing education and other requirements for new hires 14.0 19.4 16.3 11.7

NOTES: 94 responses. Starting in November 2018, "increasing wages" appears as a separate answer choice from 'increasing benefits.' We will continue to include the share of firms reporting increasing wages and/or benefits but as a calculation based on responses to "increasing wages" and 'increasing benefits.'

Are you currently trying to hire?

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       72.7
No       27.3

NOTE: 110 responses.

Are you having problems finding qualified workers when hiring?*

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       79.5
No       20.5

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 78 responses.

If you are you having problems finding qualified workers, what are the main reasons why? Please select all that apply.*

Feb. ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills) 60.3 64.9 57.5 68.9
Lack of available applicants/no applicants 72.1 70.3 69.9 60.7
Looking for more pay than is offered 38.2 47.3 43.8 44.3
Lack of experience 44.1 35.1 38.4 42.6
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 44.1 36.5 45.2 42.6
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check 41.2 35.1 42.5 42.6

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 61 responses.

At your firm, what is the average hourly wage paid for each category?

      May ’19
(percent)
Low-skill positions (typically require high school diploma or less and minimal work experience)       $14.00/hour
Mid-skill positions (typically require some college or technical training)       $20.00/hour
High-skill positions (typically require college degree or higher)       $35.00/hour

NOTES: 89 responses. Shown are the median values.

How has your firm’s operating margin (defined as earnings before interest and taxes [EBIT] as a share of total revenue) changed over the past six months?

    Dec. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increased substantially     11.1 11.4
Increased slightly     24.2 23.8
Remained the same     17.2 22.9
Decreased slightly     35.4 33.3
Decreased substantially     12.1 8.6

NOTE: 105 responses.

Special Questions Comments

These comments have been edited for publication.

Food Manufacturing

  • We need a sensible immigration program to support manufacturing growth in the U.S. We are turning down growth opportunities because of lack of labor.

Apparel Manufacturing

  • Efficiencies and increased volumes are driving margin increases.

Chemical Manufacturing

  • There is a heavy focus on robotics and automation to address efficiencies and employment shortages.

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

  • Input pricing changes depend upon tariff amounts.

Primary Metal Manufacturing

  • Business is still very good. While we expect a slowdown in the second half of this year, the slowdown should be moderate.

Machinery Manufacturing

  • Forecasting is impossible, and skilled labor is nonexistent.
  • Tariffs are impacting profit and loss (P&L), and they will be increasing due to the 10 to 25 percent increase in May.

Electrical Equipment, Appliance and Component Manufacturing

  • Wages are up, and in the Dallas area if you don't have a job, it’s because you don’t want one. (Or you can't pass the drug test.)

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

  • The motor home industry has been in a slump for six months.

Texas Service Sector Outlook Survey

Data were collected May 14–22, and 262 Texas business executives responded to the surveys.
See data files with a full history of results.

What annual percent change in wages, input prices and selling prices did your firm experience in 2018 and what do you expect for 2019?

Downloadable chart | Chart data

      May ’19
(percent)
Wages       3.9
Input prices (excluding wages)       3.3
Selling prices       2.9

NOTES: 199 responses. Shown are trimmed means with the lowest and highest 5 percent of responses omitted.

What, if anything, are you doing to recruit and retain employees? Please check all that apply.

May ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increasing wages and/or benefits 63.9 63.0 65.8 60.9
Increasing wages 61.3 57.8
Intensifying recruiting, including advertising, paying recruiting bonuses, utilizing employment agencies, etc. 52.3 56.2 60.4 47.6
Offering additional training 26.9 35.6 37.3 34.7
Improving working conditions 28.2 26.5 26.2 32.4
Increasing variable pay, including bonuses 33.3 29.2 31.1 31.6
Increasing benefits 21.8 18.7
Reducing education and other requirements for new hires 6.0 10.0 10.2 7.1

NOTES: 225 responses. Starting in November 2018, "increasing wages" appears as a separate answer choice from 'increasing benefits.' We will continue to include the share of firms reporting increasing wages and/or benefits but as a calculation based on responses to "increasing wages" and 'increasing benefits.'

Are you currently trying to hire?

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       70.8
No       29.2

NOTE: 260 responses.

Are you having problems finding qualified workers when hiring?*

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       84.5
No       15.5

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 181 responses.

If you are you having problems finding qualified workers, what are the main reasons why? Please select all that apply.*

Feb. ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants 58.5 74.1 70.9 63.8
Looking for more pay than is offered 40.9 38.6 45.6 48.0
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills) 45.9 38.6 36.7 46.7
Lack of experience 34.0 38.0 41.8 38.2
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 37.7 33.5 36.1 30.3
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check 25.2 29.1 27.8 28.9

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 152 responses.

At your firm, what is the average hourly wage paid for each category?

      May ’19
(percent)
Low-skill positions (typically require high school diploma or less and minimal work experience)       $12.50/hour
Mid-skill positions (typically require some college or technical training)       $20.00/hour
High-skill positions (typically require college degree or higher)       $31.00/hour

NOTES: 161 responses. Shown are the median values.

How has your firm’s operating margin (defined as earnings before interest and taxes [EBIT] as a share of total revenue) changed over the past six months?

    Dec. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increased substantially     5.3 4.0
Increased slightly     22.6 22.5
Remained the same     27.9 31.7
Decreased slightly     33.7 33.7
Decreased substantially     10.6 8.0

NOTE: 249 responses.

Special Questions Comments

These comments have been edited for publication.

Truck Transportation

  • Work has slowed down below what it takes to break even! We can't find anyone who wants to work as a diesel mechanic, even at $30 to $40 an hour.

Broadcasting (Except Internet)

  • Our anticipated increase in wages is most impacted by our annual pay adjustments we do on July 1 of each year (so we consider that a seasonal adjustment). At this moment, we anticipate increasing all wages by 3 percent on July 1, 2019. On July 1, 2018, we increased wages by 5 percent and moved our “minimum wage” from $10 an hour to $11 an hour. We plan on holding our “minimum wage” at $11 for 2019.

Credit Intermediation and Related Activities

  • Wages are increasing without increases in selling prices. We are focused on reductions in marketing and charitable giving budgets to try to maintain profit margins.

Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities

  • Our margin has increased largely due to understaffing. The understaffing is not due to a lack of applicants. To the contrary, we have more applicants than ever before. Finding qualified applicants who can write a coherent sentence and pass evaluations remains very difficult.
  • Our operating margin has decreased due to investment in future growth.

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

  • There is a lot of uncertainty on the economic front with USMCA [U.S.–Mexico–Canada trade agreement], Chinese tariffs, labor availability, etc.
  • The only reason the operating margin has increased is because my firm has had some work (consulting).

Administrative and Support Services

  • We are a staffing company and are finding the availability of skilled personnel to be limited.
  • We are government contractors—our contracts are a fixed price and based on government wage determination.

Educational Services

  • Labor costs are rising, and it is harder to raise contracted prices when our purchase orders are annual.

Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

  • Margins dropped drastically with the increased cost of labor due to overtime. We have remained 6 to 10 percent short of the number of employees required to staff our required positions with an 85 percent turnover rate amongst 67 percent of our entire staff.

Food Services and Drinking Places

  • Small same-store sales gains have cut commission checks to managers.

 

Texas Retail Outlook Survey

Data were collected May 14–22, and 50 Texas retailers responded to the surveys.
See data files with a full history of results.

What annual percent change in wages, input prices and selling prices did your firm experience in 2018 and what do you expect for 2019?

Downloadable chart | Chart data

      May ’19
(percent)
Wages       3.8
Input prices (excluding wages)       3.5
Selling prices       3.3

NOTES: 35 responses. Shown are trimmed means with the lowest and highest 5 percent of responses omitted.

What, if anything, are you doing to recruit and retain employees? Please check all that apply.

May ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increasing wages and/or benefits 56.8 63.0 58.7 51.1
Increasing wages 56.5 46.7
Intensifying recruiting, including advertising, paying recruiting bonuses, utilizing employment agencies, etc. 65.9 54.3 58.7 44.4
Increasing variable pay, including bonuses 36.4 37.0 30.4 35.6
Offering additional training 18.2 30.4 26.1 33.3
Improving working conditions 27.3 32.6 26.1 22.2
Increasing benefits 15.2 20.0
Reducing education and other requirements for new hires 6.8 10.9 10.9 8.9

NOTES: 45 responses. Starting in November 2018, "increasing wages" appears as a separate answer choice from 'increasing benefits.' We will continue to include the share of firms reporting increasing wages and/or benefits but as a calculation based on responses to "increasing wages" and 'increasing benefits.'

Are you currently trying to hire?

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       70.0
No       30.0

NOTE: 50 responses.

Are you having problems finding qualified workers when hiring?*

      May ’19
(percent)
Yes       88.6
No       11.4

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 35 responses.

If you are you having problems finding qualified workers, what are the main reasons why? Please select all that apply.*

Feb. ’18
(percent)
Aug. ’18
(percent)
Nov. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills) 48.6 52.6 45.5 64.5
Lack of available applicants/no applicants 56.8 78.9 66.7 61.3
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check 37.8 42.1 45.5 54.8
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 40.5 36.8 39.4 35.5
Lack of experience 35.1 34.2 33.3 29.0
Looking for more pay than is offered 24.3 23.7 36.4 22.6

*This question posed only to respondents who answered "yes" to the previous question.
NOTE: 31 responses.

At your firm, what is the average hourly wage paid for each category?

      May ’19
(percent)
Low-skill positions (typically require high school diploma or less and minimal work experience)       $12.00/hour
Mid-skill positions (typically require some college or technical training)       $20.00/hour
High-skill positions (typically require college degree or higher)       $29.50/hour

NOTES: 35 responses. Shown are the median values.

How has your firm’s operating margin (defined as earnings before interest and taxes [EBIT] as a share of total revenue) changed over the past six months?

    Dec. ’18
(percent)
May ’19
(percent)
Increased substantially     2.6 2.3
Increased slightly     10.3 15.9
Remained the same     23.1 27.3
Decreased slightly     41.0 43.2
Decreased substantially     23.1 11.4

NOTE: 44 responses.

Special Questions Comments

These comments have been edited for publication.

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods

  • The big uncertainty is related to the recently implemented tariffs.

Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods

  • Input prices will depend on tariffs.

Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers

  • Prices are entirely dependent on the automobile manufacturers. We have no control over them.
  • Our company is focused on offsetting wage and other expense increases by trying to increase margins by small amounts—1 to 2 percent.

Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores

  • Input prices will be determined by the outcome of the tariff issues. Selling prices are very difficult to increase for an apparel retailer.

Questions regarding the Texas Business Outlook Surveys can be addressed to Emily Kerr at emily.kerr@dal.frb.org,

Sign up for our  email alert to be automatically notified as soon as the latest surveys are released on the web.