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Special Questions

Special Questions

January 31, 2022

For this month’s survey, Texas business executives were asked supplemental questions on the impact of COVID-19 and labor market conditions. Results below include responses from participants of all three surveys: Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, Texas Service Sector Outlook Survey and Texas Retail Outlook Survey.

Texas Business Outlook Surveys

Data were collected January 18–26, and 371 Texas business executives responded to the surveys.

1. Has your business been impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
No 27.0
Yes–positively 3.0
Yes–negatively 70.0

NOTE: 387 responses.

1a. If your business has experienced a negative impact, please indicate any that apply.

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Increased absenteeism 83.3
Reduced productivity due to alternative work arrangements 46.7
New or worsened hiring difficulty 43.6
New or worsened supply-chain disruptions 43.6
Lower demand 25.3
Partially shut down business operations temporarily 13.6
Fully shut down business operations temporarily 1.6
Other 5.1

NOTES: 257 responses. This question was only posed to those negatively impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19.

2. Are you currently trying to hire or recall workers?


May. '19
(percent)
Feb. '20
(percent)
Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Yes 71.4 65.5 60.1 68.7 67.9 68.4
No 28.6 34.5 39.9 31.3 32.1 31.6

NOTE: 367 responses.

2a. Are there any impediments to hiring or recalling workers? Please select all that apply.

                  

Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants   66.7 75.9 75.5 73.3
Workers looking for more pay than is offered   33.8 40.8 50.6 53.4
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills)   41.2 35.1 44.6 43.0
Lack of experience 38.4 32.2 36.1 32.7
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 26.9 25.7 34.1 30.7
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check                    19.9 22.9 22.1 17.5
Lack of child care, including school interruptions  11.6 11.4 9.2 15.9
Fear of COVID-19 infection                                                                8.3 6.5 11.2 15.5
COVID-19 exposure or infection*


13.5
Other 10.6 7.8 7.2 4.8
None 9.7 0.0 4.8 2.4

*This answer added to the survey in January 2022.
NOTES: 251 responses. This question was only posed to those currently trying to hire or recall workers.

2b. How has the availability of applicants changed over the past month?


Jun. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Aug. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Improved significantly 0.0 0.5 2.2 0.5 1.6
Improved slightly 17.0 24.9 22.1 18.2 12.5
No change 47.8 47.6 46.4 46.0 40.8
Worsened slightly 20.1 16.8 23.2 26.7 35.9
Worsened significantly 15.1 10.3 6.1 8.6 9.2

NOTES: 184 responses. This question was only posed to those noting a lack of available applicants/no applicants.

3. How did your firm’s employee quit rate, including retirements, over the last six months compare to pre-COVID levels?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Much higher 13.1
Slightly higher 36.0
No change 46.9
Slightly lower 3.8
Much lower 0.3

NOTE: 367 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 January 18–26, and 95 Texas manufacturers responded to the survey.

1. Has your business been impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
No 27.7
Yes–positively 2.1
Yes–negatively 70.2

NOTE: 94 responses.

1a. If your business has experienced a negative impact, please indicate any that apply.

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Increased absenteeism 97.0
New or worsened supply-chain disruptions 59.1
New or worsened hiring difficulty 57.6
Reduced productivity due to alternative work arrangements 51.5
Partially shut down business operations temporarily 13.6
Lower demand 9.1
Fully shut down business operations temporarily 1.5
Other 0.0

NOTES: 66 responses. This question was only posed to those negatively impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19.

2. Are you currently trying to hire or recall workers?


May. '19
(percent)
Feb. '20
(percent)
Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Yes 72.7 57.1 70.7 80.2 78.0 83.0
No 27.3 42.9 29.3 19.8 22.0 17.0

NOTE: 94 responses.

2a. Are there any impediments to hiring or recalling workers? Please select all that apply.

                  

Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants   75.7 84.4 82.1 71.8
Workers looking for more pay than is offered   32.9 44.2 52.6 57.7
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills)   51.4 40.3 52.6 52.6
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 32.9 24.7 41.0 38.5
Lack of experience 42.9 37.7 42.3 32.1
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check                    30.0 29.9 29.5 26.9
Fear of COVID-19 infection                                                                2.9 3.9 7.7 14.1
COVID-19 exposure or infection*


10.3
Lack of child care, including school interruptions  8.6 9.1 6.4 9.0
Other 10.0 5.2 6.4 2.6
None 4.3 0.0 2.6 2.6

*This answer added to the survey in January 2022.
NOTES: 78 responses. This question was only posed to those currently trying to hire or recall workers.

2b. How has the availability of applicants changed over the past month?


Jun. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Aug. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Improved significantly 0.0 1.5 1.8 0.0 1.8
Improved slightly 13.0 20.0 23.6 18.8 12.5
No change 44.4 50.8 43.6 43.8 44.6
Worsened slightly 24.1 15.4 27.3 26.6 28.6
Worsened significantly 18.5 12.3 3.6 10.9 12.5

NOTES: 56 responses. This question was only posed to those noting a lack of available applicants/no applicants.

3. How did your firm’s employee quit rate, including retirements, over the last six months compare to pre-COVID levels?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Much higher 11.8
Slightly higher 40.9
No change 46.2
Slightly lower 1.1
Much lower 0.0

NOTE: 93 responses.

Special Questions Comments

These comments have been edited for publication.

Chemical Manufacturing

  • Two employees quit for other jobs. This is out of 105 employees.

Primary Metal Manufacturing

  • If you people in government would stop paying people not to work, we could hire all the workers we need.

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

  • We are at capacity, people and equipment wise. Retirements (two out of 31 employees, with no replacements currently available) and very few new applicants have affected productivity. Over the last six months, younger new hires have quit or failed random drug tests a few months after they were hired.

Machinery Manufacturing

  • We need workers but are not even making an effort to hire.
  • We have been very generous with our sick pay due to workers having COVID, and all have come back to work now.

Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing

  • We have so far not felt any issues from the “great resignation.” We have our employees working from home, and they appear to be satisfied with their jobs and the company.
  • The quit rate is higher, mostly based on new hires deciding they did not want to stay/not a good fit. Longer-term employees have been a very stable workforce, with no increase in turnover.

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

  • COVID was a plus and minus. It boosted market demand for our products, but supply and personnel problems increased our costs and inhibited our ability to supply the demand.

Food Manufacturing

  • A certain resignation to COVID/omicron has set in. You get vaccinated twice, get a booster, get the flu shot, mask up as warranted and go with it.

Printing and Related Product Manufacturing

  • Our quit rate has been mitigated by increasing wages—meeting competitive offers.

Miscellaneous Manufacturing

  • Wages requested are significantly higher than in previous months.

Texas Service Sector Outlook Survey

Data were collected January 18–26, and 276 Texas business executives responded to the survey.

1. Has your business been impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
No 26.7
Yes–positively 3.3
Yes–negatively 70.0

NOTE: 273 responses.

1a. If your business has experienced a negative impact, please indicate any that apply.

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Increased absenteeism 78.5
Reduced productivity due to alternative work arrangements 45.0
New or worsened hiring difficulty 38.7
New or worsened supply-chain disruptions 38.2
Lower demand 30.9
Partially shut down business operations temporarily 13.6
Fully shut down business operations temporarily 1.6
Other 6.8

NOTES: 191 responses. This question was only posed to those negatively impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19.

2. Are you currently trying to hire or recall workers?


May. '19
(percent)
Feb. '20
(percent)
Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Yes 70.8 68.8 56.1 64.5 64.2 63.4
No 29.2 31.2 43.9 35.5 35.8 36.6

NOTE: 273 responses.

2a. Are there any impediments to hiring or recalling workers? Please select all that apply.

                  

Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants   62.3 72.0 72.5 74.0
Workers looking for more pay than is offered   34.2 39.3 49.7 51.4
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills)   36.3 32.7 40.9 38.7
Lack of experience 36.3 29.8 33.3 32.9
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 24.0 26.2 31.0 27.2
Lack of child care, including school interruptions  13.0 12.5 10.5 19.1
Fear of COVID-19 infection                                                                11.0 7.7 12.9 16.2
COVID-19 exposure or infection*


15.0
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check                    15.1 19.6 18.7 13.3
Other 11.0 8.9 7.6 5.8
None 12.3 0.0 5.8 2.3

*This answer added to the survey in January 2022.
NOTES: 173 responses. This question was only posed to those currently trying to hire or recall workers.

2b. How has the availability of applicants changed over the past month?


Jun. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Aug. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Improved significantly 0.0 0.0 2.4 0.8 1.6
Improved slightly 19.0 27.5 21.4 17.9 12.5
No change 49.5 45.8 47.6 47.2 39.1
Worsened slightly 18.1 17.5 21.4 26.8 39.1
Worsened significantly 13.3 9.2 7.1 7.3 7.8

NOTES: 128 responses. This question was only posed to those noting a lack of available applicants/no applicants.

3. How did your firm’s employee quit rate, including retirements, over the last six months compare to pre-COVID levels?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Much higher 13.5
Slightly higher 34.3
No change 47.1
Slightly lower 4.7
Much lower 0.4

NOTE: 274 responses.

Special Questions Comments

These comments have been edited for publication.

Truck Transportation

  • Inflation and supply-chain problems are worse than COVID ever was.

Pipeline Transportation

  • We see an  increase in attrition, especially in accounting/IT areas. Workers are looking for more flexible work schedules. (For our office, workers generally work three days in the office/two days from home.) [We are hiring] less-qualified applicants, increasing compensation/sign-on [bonuses], etc.

Publishing Industries (Except Internet)

  • Uncertainties in business conditions and expected higher costs continue to slow decisions and partnership projects in some cases.

Credit Intermediation and Related Activities

  • We were ready for distributed work. Then, we put in a new phone system and upgraded our imaging system to better accommodate at-home work.
  • Business operators that require a more-rigorous, hard-labor, workforce are having a hard time filling vacancies. The quality of that labor force has been diminished.

Insurance Carriers and Related Activities

  • We have had to deal with working remotely, but our staffing has been stable, thank goodness. We have had a number of positive COVID tests lately, impacting in-person work schedules.

Real Estate

  • We are having to throw a much wider net to get candidates.

Rental and Leasing Services

  • Inflationary wage pressure is making it hard to hire for the long term or keep your employee base intact.  None of it has to do with all the issues that dominate the talk from talking heads today. It has to do with the most money versus the easiest, least-effort opportunity available. Nothing we do is easy or of little effort. I suspect the workforce pulls its head out of its rear when a correction or recession makes jobs scarce and people start to feel the pain or fear of not providing for their family and loved ones—assuming the government doesn't jump back into the fight and pay them to do nothing again. A great lesson you taught the workforce, politicians!

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

  • Even though the oil price has increased over the past six months, capital project work does not seem to be going forward at a significant pace. As an independent consultant in the energy arena, my work prospects have not really increased.
  • [There has been an] increase in productivity disruptions and staff absences due to COVID-19 infections. In January, COVID has impacted over 30 percent of our staff—either the employee was infected or a member of their household was infected or they were exposed by close contact to someone who later tested positive. With the holiday disruption in November and December and the January COVID surge, productivity has suffered. [There has been a] loss of momentum and drive in staff psyche.
  • Allowing people to work from home has extended their work life. Before the pandemic, we had several people thinking about retiring, but once we allowed them to work from home, most decided to continue to work.
  • We are in a holding pattern for now.

Administrative and Support Services

  • We've received more applications than we did for open positions last fall, but most are currently employed and appear to be looking for higher-paying positions. 
  • We do not have turnover in our company; however, we are experiencing retirements in several areas.

Ambulatory Health Care Services

  • We see rising demand without any premium pricing. [There is] burnout, exhaustion and limited capacity.
  • We need skills ranging from entry level to most highly specialized and are paying over market rates.
  • This is limiting expansion but mostly fatiguing those remaining on staff.
  • We work very hard on employee retention and engagement. We gave additional bonuses to all employees in December, seeking to preempt additional employee loss. Wage increases and employee shortages are the greatest challenges to our success in 2022.
  • In my opinion as a small business owner, the Federal Reserve raising the interest rate to shorten liquidity in the market will not control inflation, but it does control the stock market exuberance, which is a disconnect from inflation. The inflation question is: Is it a factor of supply shortage and infusion of COVID funds into the system or a systemic issue that needs to be addressed with interest rate moderation? A key area that definitely needs to be kicked up the priority list is the human resource shortage issue that is noticed especially in health care and education environments. For example, it has been stated that 5,000 cardiologists retired and only 500 new ones are added every year. How long would it take to replace these retiring cardiologists, nurses, teachers, etc.? This is creating a real wage inflation across the board.

Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

  • The employee quit rate has remained fairly consistent, but the applications to fill vacancies are very low.

Food Services and Drinking Places

  • I wish I understood where employees have gone. Everyone I know is saying the same. If the government would allow businesses to hire those coming to this country, it would solve many problems.

Texas Retail Outlook Survey

Data were collected January 18–26, and 45 Texas retailers responded to the survey.

1. Has your business been impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
No 28.9
Yes–positively 8.9
Yes–negatively 62.2

NOTE: 45 responses.

1a. If your business has experienced a negative impact, please indicate any that apply.

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Increased absenteeism 75.0
New or worsened supply-chain disruptions 50.0
Reduced productivity due to alternative work arrangements 42.9
New or worsened hiring difficulty 35.7
Lower demand 25.0
Partially shut down business operations temporarily 3.6
Fully shut down business operations temporarily 0.0
Other 10.7

NOTES: 28 responses. This question was only posed to those negatively impacted over the past month by the current surge of COVID-19.

2. Are you currently trying to hire or recall workers?


May. '19
(percent)
Feb. '20
(percent)
Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Yes 70.0 61.2 56.5 71.1 69.6 68.2
No 30.0 38.8 43.5 28.9 30.4 31.8

NOTE: 44 responses.

2a. Are there any impediments to hiring or recalling workers? Please select all that apply.

                  

Apr. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Lack of available applicants/no applicants   80.0 84.4 75.0 80.0
Lack of technical competencies (hard skills)   56.0 40.6 53.1 50.0
Workers looking for more pay than is offered   24.0 43.8 43.8 40.0
Lack of workplace competencies (soft skills) 24.0 31.3 34.4 40.0
Lack of experience 32.0 31.3 28.1 36.7
Inability to pass drug test and/or background check 32.0 40.6 34.4 30.0
COVID-19 exposure or infection*


20.0
Fear of COVID-19 infection                                                                4.0 9.4 9.4 16.7
Lack of child care, including school interruptions  12.0 12.5 6.3 13.3
Other 4.0 9.4 3.1 0.0
None 0.0 0.0 6.3 0.0

*This answer added to the survey in January 2022.
NOTES: 30 responses. This question was only posed to those currently trying to hire or recall workers.

2b. How has the availability of applicants changed over the past month?


Jun. '21
(percent)
Jul. '21
(percent)
Aug. '21
(percent)
Oct. '21
(percent)
Jan. '22
(percent)
Improved significantly 0.0 0.0 7.1 0.0 8.3
Improved slightly 15.8 37.0 21.4 4.2 16.7
No change 47.4 40.7 57.1 50.0 37.5
Worsened slightly 21.1 18.5 7.1 37.5 37.5
Worsened significantly 15.8 3.7 7.1 8.3 0.0

NOTES: 24 responses. This question was only posed to those noting a lack of available applicants/no applicants.

3. How did your firm’s employee quit rate, including retirements, over the last six months compare to pre-COVID levels?

  Jan. '22
(percent)
Much higher 11.1
Slightly higher 35.6
No change 51.1
Slightly lower 0.0
Much lower 2.2

NOTE: 45 responses.

Special Questions Comments

There were no comments for the Texas Retail Outlook Survey for this release.

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

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