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Member Survey Insights

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO

Each year the Chamber sends out a survey to all members to collect information on wages, benefits, turnover, key challenges, etc., and to report back the results so that members can use the information for their own assessment and planning activities. The numbers are in, and the results, while not being definitive, do provide some insight into current conditions. Some numbers are surprising and some not surprising.


Of the survey respondents, 36% are from companies that rely on tourism, 18% of the companies rely on a blend of tourism and non-tourism with the remaining 46% in non-tourism reliant businesses. This is close to the breakdown of our member company profile.


The most surprising statistic from the survey is that reported starting wages went from $16.62 per hour to $19.03 per hour. This is a 14.5% increase. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, hourly wages in Texas went up 4.3% year over year. MIT has a Living Wage calculator (last updated February 14, 2024) and for Texas, the living wage for 1 adult with no children is $20.92. For two adults, both working with no children, the living wage is $14.44. For Gillespie County the living wages for the same scenarios are $20.26 and $13.68. As comparison to other areas, for Bexar County they are $20.18 and $14.07;  for Travis County $23.85 and $16.11; and for Kerr County $19.06 and $13.20.


I anticipate the last paragraph will start conversations across town! Here are some other statistics of note:

The survey shows that we are a small business economy:

·         48% of the respondents have 10 or less employees

·         17% have 11 to 20 employees

·         17% have more than 50 employees


We employ a lot of folks part-time:

·         68% of the companies have part time employees

·         35% have 6 or more part time employees


The cost of health benefits was another number that caught my attention. The average premium per employee is $561.24, and 23% of the employers pay 100% of the premium while 17% paid 26-50%, and 9% did not contribute to the premium. The average health plan deductible is $3,060. The Chamber is actively looking for ways to help small employers in the area of health insurance.


In this year’s survey, we also asked how the cost of housing in Fredericksburg affects employers and employees. The respondents reported that 32% of their employees live outside Gillespie County. It was disappointing to learn that 28% employees who left our respondents said they were leaving because they could not afford housing in Fredericksburg and 32% left due to the commute. We also asked why employees who were offered jobs turned down positions. Responding members reported that 31% of offers were rejected due to the cost of housing and 29% because of the commute. Not enough compensation came in at 19%. Childcare came in a close third for why employees leave or turn down job offers. In terms of turnover, 25% of employees resigned due to the cost of childcare.

I’ll finish with two stats. First of all, 68% of employers surveyed have job openings. We also asked employers to rate the hardship they experience in filling positions, with 0 being no hardship and 5 being severe hardship. The average was 4.5…which I interpret as darn close to “severe.”


We are still reviewing the raw data of the survey to glean more insights to help us design and develop potential solutions to various issues. We are beginning to drill down into the key issues for each segment of our economy to customize the potential solutions by segment.


The column last week prompted me to ask some questions, and I have even more now!





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