Wednesday, March 26, 2008

State of the economy in west Texas

In my business I talk to a number of business owners in west Texas. The anecdotal evidence is that the economy is good in our area. Though it appears that nationally the economy is weakening, our area is not yet affected.

Employment is full. The chief complaint of business owners is that they cannot hire or retain employees, particularly at the entry level. The strength of the oil patch is a major contributor to this shortage. Good employees can earn a good wage working in oil extraction, processing and the related service companies. That leaves the other industries and trades competing at a wage disadvantage for marginal employees.

Another issue faced by employers is the work ethic, or more to the point, lack of one, of the Millenials. These young people have never had any expectation or responsibility placed on them. They were never allowed to compete. Remember in youth sports they were all winners and no one kept score. Now that they are expected to perform for a reward, in this instance, pay, they are not up to the task. So many of them do not realize that they should show up at a scheduled time and perform a designated task. It is simply beyond their ability to do this.

There are some signs of a slow down in the new home construction and remodeling market, but these do not appear to be as severe as the national trends. Orders for sub-contractors seems to have declined somewhat. This is not necessarily bad as there appears to be a shortage of skilled workers in the trades as well.

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