Sales are up, new employees are being hired, and credit is available despite many local businesses feeling the nation isn’t out of the recession yet according to survey results from the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Day.
The Chamber unofficially conducted the survey during “Chamber Day” on May 25, during which approximately 100 volunteers hit the streets in small groups and visited 595 businesses during that one day. The survey was delivered in a verbal question and answer type format.
“We are excited by the findings in this survey,” said Chamber President and CEO Royce Hickman. “It shows that many of our businesses are doing well, or doing better than they have done in the past. In a way, it reassures us that while things may still be difficult on the national level, we’re for the most part doing okay.”
To produce the results, four questions were asked in a yes or no format: 1) are sales better this year than last? 2) are you planning on hiring this year? 3) if you need capital, is credit available? 4) do you think we are out of the recession?
Nearly 61 percent of respondents said sales are better than last year; just under 55 percent said they are planning on hiring this year; 53 percent indicated credit was available; while 70 percent of businesses felt we aren’t out of the recession yet.
Businesses were broken into 16 different categories such as retail, medical and construction. Retail businesses showed the largest percentage of feeling that sales had improved (55%), while construction showed the largest percentage that sales had not improved (56%). The medical industry was most likely to hire this year (55%) while construction was the most unlikely to hire new employees (56%).
Those numbers align with the May results from the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that showed the construction industry had one of the slower overall growths in new jobs added, while the medical industry continued to add jobs at a fast rate. The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the Bryan/College Station area through May of this year was at 6.0 percent. The state unemployment rate is at 8.0 percent, while the national average is 9.1 percent. Texas is currently one of the top states for 2011 in job growth, adding 92,300 jobs this year.
“This is why working and living in the Bryan and College Station area is so special,” Hickman said. “Even when times are a little tough, we’re resilient. Our businesses find a way to succeed, and continue to grow the community in a positive way. And of course that’s in part due to the continued economic boost from the Texas A&M and Blinn students.”
During “Chamber Day”, the Chamber and its volunteers take the opportunity to thank local businesses for doing business in Bryan and College Station. They also give the businesses the opportunity to discuss any problems or concerns they have and any other issues affecting them.
During “Chamber Day”, the volunteers visited with both Chamber members and non-members. Any visits made to non-members were not sales calls to recruit new members, and no information or solicitation about joining the Chamber was passed out unless the business requested it.
The Chamber will host another “Chamber Day” in spring of 2012, and plans to conduct the unofficial survey again during that day.
A total of 595 businesses were visited on May 25, 2011 between 9 am and 4:30 p.m. Business owners or managers comprised the majority of the people responding to the questions. An acceptable response outside of “yes” or “no” included “not sure” or “I don’t know”. Any response outside of “yes” or “no” was assigned in the “N/A” category. Businesses had the option of not answering the questions. If a business declined to answer the questions, they were not included in the final survey numbers.