TEXAS - A panel of three Dallas-area CEOs and an economist say consumer changes, demographic shifts and other factors could slow Texas’ fast growth pace.
“The Texas economy grew really robustly this year through August,” said Mine Yücel, director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “Employment was up 3.5 percent from 2013, compared with 1.8 percent for the nation and average historical growth rate of 2 percent for Texas.”
Yücel spoke to about 250 people gathered for the 2015 Economic Forecast in Dallas. She was joined by Fluor Corp. CEO David Seaton, Kimberly-Clark Corp. CEO Thomas J. Falk, and J.C. Penney Co. CEO Mike Ullman.
Yücel expects Texas’ 3.5 percent job growth to continue through the rest of the year for about 400,000 total jobs, but that high demand has led to labor shortages, especially in energy and construction.
Fluor’s Seaton feels “the pinch” from the labor shortage and he thinks comprehensive U.S. immigration reform would help alleviate some of that pressure. Fluor is one of the world’s largest engineering and construction services companies.
Kimberly-Clark’s Falk and J.C. Penney’s Ullman both see big changes in the middle-class consumer.
The middle class — the nation’s middle two income quartiles — is “what I spend the most time thinking about,” Ullman said. “We always say that middle consumer has too little time, too little money and too many kids.”
Falk sees two big demographic shifts affecting his Irving-based consumer packaged goods company: There are more Latino and Asian consumers; and flat wages and lower household income is leaving middle-class consumers with less money to spend.
The Dallas forum was the first of McCombs’ Texas Enterprise Speaker Series four economic forecasts. The others will take place in October in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.