Consumer prices rose 0.3% in April 2022, and rose 8.3% over the last 12 months, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. INFLATION INCREASE
WHAT MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE
NOTE: PERCENTAGE CHANGES ARE FROM MARCH 2022 AND NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED. CPI 101 The consumer price index rose in the last year. CPI measures the average change in prices paid by urban consumers for various goods and services.
Fuel oil +80.5%
Food +9.4% Energy services +13.7% Transportation services +8.5% Used cars & trucks +22.7%
A January survey of Texas business owners found 70% of businesses had been negatively affected by COVID-19 in the past month in part in the following ways.
Consumer price index
-2% -1% 0% +1% +2% +3% +4% +5% +6% +7% +8% +9%
Increased employee absenteeism
Reduced productivity due to alternative work arrangements
The consumer price index in the Houston metro has been on the rise since late 2020.
New or worsened hiring difficulty
New or worsened supply chain disruptions
SOURCES: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, GREATER HOUSTON PARTNERSHIP/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
prices nationwide compared to April of last year. The GHP also reported a 5.1% increase in job creation in 2021 with 151,800 positions created. This influx of job opportunities has left many businesses struggling to find enough employees with some people being able to choose from an array of high-paying jobs. When faced with these hardships, local Bay Area businesses have adapted and persevered, officials said. Ongoing challenges Many of the issues businesses and cities face are related to the supply chain—the flow of goods from the producer to the customer—which was essentially halted when the pan- demic first hit and nations across the globe ceased trading and shipping, Jankowski said. Although many ports have opened back up, variant outbreaks still pose a threat to this system, leaving busi- ness owners and city leaders won- dering when they will get their next shipments in, officials said. League City has experienced supply chain issues when it comes to capital projects, said Sarah Greer Osborne, executive director of communica- tions, community engagement and cultural affairs for League City. “Projects that are normally expected to be completed by a cer- tain date are being pushed or delayed by about six to nine months to get the materials that we need ordered,” she said. Two projects that have been
affected by the supply chain dis- ruptions are the city’s League City Parkway improvement project and its new water line project from the Hwy. 3 pump station to the South Shore pump station. League City is spending $4.2 million to install traffic signals and make turn lane upgrades at League City Parkway intersections. Additionally, the $22 million water line project will address the low water pressure part of the city expe- rienced during the 2012 drought, according to city officials. Due to materials not being avail- able, the projects’ construction timelines have had to be extended, Osborne said. “With the [traffic improvement project], instead of 12 weeks, we’re now looking at six months to get those poles, and that’s just because of the supply chain issue,” she said. “[For the water line project,] we bid out in July of last year. It wasn’t until January of this year that we could even get materials, and we actu- ally had to find alternate materials because they weren’t available.” Jankowski said other businesses have turned to Walmart or Target to stock their coolers with sodas and their shelves with cups as their usual providers limit distribution. Alongside supply chain disrup- tions are staffing shortages. Local business leaders agreed people have come to expect higher pay for what are coined “behind-the-counter” jobs. Jankowski said he believes this is due in part to people becoming
CONTINUED FROM 1
development for League City, said businesses in the Bay Area have struggled in their own ways during the pandemic. “It’s kind of the issue of just what appears to be not having enough people,” Livingston said. “There just seems to be a lot of competition for the workforce that is out there. There’s a lot of wage competition.” Houston’s economy has recov- ered and rebounded from shut- downs, oftentimes resulting in more demand than there is supply, said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice pres- ident of research for the Greater Houston Partnership. “We shut everything down in March and April of 2020, and we real- ized we didn’t need to shut it down,” Jankowski said. “So things started opening back up, and that’s when we saw the first surges in growth. The last quarter of 2021 was just incredi- bly strong. It was the strongest quar- ter on record for job growth.” With businesses fully operational, they need as many hands as they can get, meaning less flexibility in sched- uling than there was a year ago, Jan- kowski said. Costs for goods and supplies are higher for mom and pop shops as well, making it more difficult to raise wages and leaving a gap in produc- tion as more people go out to shops or eat at short-staffed restaurants. An April inflation update from the GHP reported a 8.3% rise in consumer
Partially shut down business operations temporarily
Fully shut down business operations temporarily
SOURCE: FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF DALLAS/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
accustomed to working from home or having more flexibility during the peak of the pandemic. Jankowski reported in February there were around 92,000 fewer workers in the Houston region now than a year prior. With many companies rethinking their office structure, many devel- opers are shying away from leas- ing out office space or building new businesses. “People want to work from home. They don’t want to be in the office as much, and again, corporations are downsizing their leasehold foot- Items being stuck in shipping limbo cause a sort of chain reaction that trickles down into local busi- nesses and affects the way they oper- ate, said Alice McCalla, a Clear Lake business owner. One such business is promotional products supplier Fully Promoted, an international brand that has print,” Livingston said. Businesses adapting
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
Powered by FlippingBook