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Houston Business Barometer Week 10: Businesses Report an Improving Outlook as Reopen Continues

Published Jun 10, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

A growing number of local companies say their short-term outlook is improving as the reopening of the Houston economy continues. 

"In the 10 weeks the Partnership has been conducting the survey, we’ve seen a remarkable shift in local economic conditions," said Partnership Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski.

The first survey, conducted April 4-6, found that a near majority of respondents (48.9%) said their outlook had worsened in recent weeks and only 6.7 percent said they’d improved. By this week's survey (the 10th), 5.6% indicated conditions had worsened in recent weeks while 38.9% said conditions were improving.

"Early on, employers took significant steps to combat the COVID-19 outbreak," Jankowski said. "The policies stayed the same throughout most of the survey, but by week five employers began to recall their employees back to the office or worksite. By week 10, nearly 40% had begun to recall employees back."
 

Actions Taken to Combat COVID-19

 

Week 1

Week 5

Week 10

Instituted work-from-home practices

84.3%

93.4%

87.7%

Furloughed employees

10.1%

9.4%

16.4%

Laid-off employees

16.9%

13.2%

23.3%

Reduced wages

11.2%

17.0%

17.8%

Enacted a hiring freeze

36.0%

36.8%

32.9%

Shut down whole or partial operations

22.5%

24.5%

20.6%

Brought furloughed employees back to work

2.3%

2.8%

6.9%

Brought employees working-from-home back to the office/worksite

2.3%

12.3%

39.7%

Re-hired employees

0.0%

0.9%

2.7%

Reversed previous cuts in wages

1.1%

1.9%

4.1%

Hired new employees

5.6%

17.9%

30.1%

Re-opened operations

5.6%

4.7%

24.7%

 

Just over 26% of respondents to this week’s survey said their revenues have declined since their last billing cycle while 22% say revenues have increased since last cycle. About 14% of those surveyed said they have recalled all of their employees to the worksite and another 41% say they recalled some employees who have been working from home. About 31% of respondents said they have yet to recall any employees who have been working from home. 
 

COVID-19’s Impact on Revenues

 

Week 1

Week 5

Week 10

Increased

3.3%

8.5%

22.2%

Decreased

56.7%

44.3%

26.4%

Remained about the same

24.4%

34.9%

41.7%

Too soon to tell

15.6%

12.3%

9.7%

 

Approximately 40% of companies said they had partially or fully reopened their previously shuttered operations in recent weeks, while just 4% of respondents said they had not yet reopened. Slightly more than half of respondents reported they never halted operations. 

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to this week’s survey say they did not furlough employees during the shutdown. About 14% said they have recalled all or some of their furloughed employees and 19% said they have not yet recalled any furloughed employees. 

The number of firms responding that their operation were severely or moderately impacted fell from 82% in week one to 62% in week 10. "While the percentage remains elevated, it suggests an gradual improvement in economic conditions for Houston area firms," Jankowski said. 

 

COVID-19’s Impact on Operations

 

Week 1

Week 5

Week 10

Not impacted

1.11%

2.83%

4.05%

Somewhat impacted

16.67%

18.87%

29.73%

Moderately impacted

28.89%

43.40%

29.73%

Severely Impacted

53.33%

34.91%

36.49%

 

In week 10, when asked when they expected to resume normal operations in Houston, about one-fourth (27%) of respondents expect to resume normal operations within the next four weeks, but a near equally share (29%) don’t expect operations to return to normal for three or more months. Nearly 20% don’t know when operations will return to normal.

 

When do you expect to resume normal operations in Houston?

 

1-2 weeks

18.2%

 

3-4 weeks

9.1%

 

5-6 weeks

13.6%

 

7-8 weeks

10.6%

 

3-6 months

18.2%

 

Longer than 6 months

10.6%

 

Don’t know

19.7%

 

 

A total of 74 companies responded to the 10th Houston Business Barometer survey conducted by the Partnership between June 8 and 9. 

See results from Week 9.  

 

Get information and guidelines on reopening businesses safely from the Partnership's Houston Work Safe Program. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.

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