Survey Finds the State of Texas is Showing Signs of Economic Improvement

Posted by James Brinkman on Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 11:00am.

According to the most recent Beige Book survey to be released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, economic conditions in the state of Texas are showing signs of improvement. In fact, the report found that economic conditions through November had "firmed" and that a number of industries are showing signs of improvement.

The Beige Book survey, which is conducted on a periodic basis and evaluates the economic conditions of the Federal 11th district that includes Central Texas, found that the paper, high-tech manufacturing, housing, staffing, energy and petrochemicals industries are all showing signs of improvement. Furthermore, the Dallas Fed's Index of Leading Indicators is also showing that an economic recovery is starting to develop in Texas.

"The only issue remaining is the rate of recovery," said Tom Fomby, who is an economics professor at Southern Methodist University, in a Biz Journals report.   "In talking with my economist friends, they seem to that that the recovery is going to be a slow, gradual" one.

Fomby went on to say that the signs show that the economy is experiencing "a slow but steady recovery, with some sectors like commercial real estate lagging behind."

The commercial real estate sector is not the only area that is still experiencing deterioration, as the financial services sector is also struggling to get back on its feet. Nonetheless, the survey found that the contacts that were interviewed from within a variety of industries had a more positive tone, though only a few expected to see a significant upturn within the near future.

Those in the staffing, accounting and legal services field, for example, reported that prices remained steady, but they were facing more pressure to lower their fees. In addition, while construction costs are still low, manufacturers of construction-related materials are finding that the cost of industrial meal and energy are on the rise. With crude oil prices increasing from $70 per barrel in October to almost $80 per barrel by the middle of November, it does not come as a surprise to hear that energy costs are an ongoing problem for many industries.

Within the real estate industry, the survey found that sales of existing homes have improved, though the activity level still remains weak. The biggest question mark within the housing market remains whether or not the improvements are completely due to the homebuyer tax credit or if it is part of a larger upward trend.

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