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Texas Executives Aren’t Laying Off, But Worry About Employee Retention

Inflation and its economic impact was a major factor in the midterm elections according to polls, but it’s looking like Texas has a rosy economic future according to a recent survey.

Digital consulting firm West Monroe polled 248 executives from Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Illinois. In Texas, 51 executives came from industries including agriculture, health care, finance, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and energy and represent billions of dollars in revenue.

The vast majority (73 percent) said that they were not planning on laying off workers or in the process of doing so in the next six months, the best score of all the states polled. While inflation and the supply chain are still seen as a major problem by respondents, 33 percent of them expected inflation to be resolved within twelve months while 40 said the same of inflation.

Indeed, Texas companies seem to be most preoccupied with labor relations and worker retention. More than 40 percent of executives listed it as their top concern.

They likely have good reason. For one, Governor Greg Abbott’s hardline anti-immigrant policies are having a significant effect on employment. Tens of thousands of job openings are going unfilled thanks to Abbott’s draconian border directives, something he is already promising to increase now that he has won a third term. The inability for companies to fill positions forces them to offer higher wages. While higher wages are a good thing in the long term, it’s been a driving factor in Texas’ inflation rates.

In the higher earners category, Texas employers are also struggling against the effects of Republican policies. The state’s ban on abortion and promise to investigate the parents of trans children is slowing the movement of skilled workers to the state. After oil companies have spent millions enticing workers to come to the state, more and more are saying no thank you. In recent polls, nearly half of women said they would not consider working in a state like Texas that bans reproductive choice. One-third of men also agreed.

For years, Texas has portrayed itself as a business friendly state that offered low taxes and lax regulation. This has drawn a significant number of major businesses to relocate to the state, including Tesla.

However, the reality is a lot more muddled and workers are feeling the pinch. Being a right-to-work state, workers have fewer protections in Texas, and there are no explicit laws on Texas books protecting gender and sexual orientation minorities. Plus, it turns out that the low taxes generally only affect the wealthiest Texans. Despite the lack of a state income tax, middle class Texans pay almost a full percentage point more than Californians. Lower class Texans pay 2.5 percent more than the same group in California.

So far, it looks like most Texans won’t have to worry about losing their jobs in 2023, but businesses are struggling for workers amid Republican culture wars. Executives know that they have a retention problem on their hands.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.


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