Dallas Fed: Texas factory production, employment increase in February


The ongoing rebound in Texas factory activity extended into its eighth month in February, having now set deep enough roots to consistently boost hiring activity and expectations, according to a report Monday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The state production index, a key measure of manufacturing health in Texas, increased to a reading of 16.7 in February from 11.9 the prior month, according to the monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

The greater, positive figure indicated that activity increased at a faster rate this month than in January.

The production index tracks closely with the overall Texas economy, so it provides one of the most current glimpses of broader economic conditions across the state.

The sustained production increases, a fourth consecutive month of rising orders and a general sense of optimism about a business conditions — partly due to the business-friendly atmosphere in the White House and Congress — helped prompt more hiring in February, the report noted.

The survey’s employment index suggested payroll expansion for the second consecutive month, the first time that has happened since the end of 2015, the Dallas Fed noted.

Factory managers also indicated a greater likelihood of increased hiring in the next six to 12 months, according to a supplementary set of questions in the survey. The share of responding manufacturers who said they expect to increase employment in that time rose to 57.1 percent in February from 41.6 percent the same time last year.

However, two-thirds of the factory managers said they continue to have problems finding qualified workers, roughly the same ratio as 12 months ago. About six of 10 manufacturers said they’d intensified their recruiting efforts, according to the Dallas Fed report, while similar number said they’d increased wages or benefits in an effort to land qualified workers.

“The ability to find qualified labor for manufacturing jobs has become nearly impossible,” a fabricated metal products manufacturer said in anonymous comments compiled by the Dallas Fed. “Even with increases in starting wages (30 percent in the last two years) applicants are less qualified and less able to work a consistent 40-hour week.”

Almost three-quarters said applicants lack the hard, technical skills needed for manufacturing jobs today. Fewer than half said applicants lacked “soft” skills.

“We have taken on many new hires that we plan on training, but 80 percent are released after attendance problems or found out the past history on employment form was exaggerated as to skill level,” said a paper manufacturer.

In kicking off its annual State of Manufacturing tour last week in Round Rock, the National Association of Manufacturers noted the rising technical requirements for factory occupations. The organization hopes to reframe the popular perception of manufacturing jobs, and its leaders stressed the need for stronger career and technical education programs nationwide.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Texas to receive $7.35 million in multi-state GM settlement

Texas will receive $7.35 million of a $120 million multi-state settlement with General Motors over allegations that the company hid safety issues stemming from defective ignition switches in some of its vehicles, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday. The settlement with attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia is the latest...
House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loan
House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loan

Getting a home mortgage loan is one of the most important financial commitments most people will ever make, since the terms of your loan can affect your finances in a big way for years to come. Start shopping for a loan before you actually begin looking at homes, since this lets you know where you stand and gives you greater negotiating power with...
5 key things you should know about car insurance
5 key things you should know about car insurance

Car insurance isn't something you probably think about often, but it's an important tool in protecting your assets. It pays to learn about your policy before you need it so you can take advantage of its benefits and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Whether you're shopping for a new policy or are wondering about the specifics of your current coverage...
Business digest: Austin gas prices drop 6 cents, AAA reports

TRAVEL Austin gas prices drop 6 cents, AAA reports Central Texas gas prices continue to fall from their Hurricane Harvey-induced spike. AAA Texas reports a gallon of unleaded fuel costs $2.30 this week in the Austin area, down six cents compared to a week ago. The statewide average is $2.26, also down six cents. Texarkana has the cheapest fuel in Texas...
Austin gas prices drop 6 cents, AAA reports
Austin gas prices drop 6 cents, AAA reports

Central Texas gas prices continue to fall from their Hurricane Harvey-induced spike. AAA Texas reports a gallon of unleaded fuel costs $2.30 this week in the Austin area, down six cents compared to a week ago. The statewide average is $2.26, also down six cents. Texarkana has the cheapest fuel in Texas, coming in at $2.18 per gallon, while El Paso...
More Stories