Special guest speaker at the Ennis Chamber of Commerce luncheon, held at Knights of Columbus Center Monday was Jason Saving, senior research economist and advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Saving delivered an overview of the state of the Texas state economy, saying Texas labor marked, which normally sees a 1 percent growth, is seeing a 3 percent rate for 2011, but noted that staffing services and “temp” jobs accounted for increase.

“Staffing services rose by 51.1 percent and a good reason for that is that most employers don’t want to go through the rigamarole of going through the process of hiring permanent employees during the uncertainty, but yet the prospect of a decent (economic) recovery seems to be rising,” Saving told the group.

Addressing manufacturing in Texas, Saving noted that while new employment in manufacturing jobs is flat, output of products is great.

“Free trade is great for the economy – every study reveals that economies get larger because of free trade,” he said. “But not everyone is better off – because if the skills of people are not consistent with the modern job market, they are the losers.”

He gave a glimmer of hope to people in the workforce that have lost their jobs and are not trained for any other profession or do not have the educational credentials.

“It’s never too late to retrain – to go back to school,” he said. “Maybe you won’t be doing the same thing you were doing, and perhaps not at the same wage, but you can still be a productive citizen.”

He had mixed reviews of the real estate market, saying that although construction has seen a 2 percent increase in the past two months.

Saving suggested that there is a silver lining for Texas petro-chemical industries in south Texas with sharp increases in fuel prices.

“Large petro-chemical companies on the Texas Gulf Coast can operate off of natural gas and can be more competitive with overseas petro-chemical corporations,” Saving noted.

And Saving had some analysis for the city of Ennis.

“Service industries in Ennis have increased by 4 percent, and about three-fourths of Ennis’ economy is service industry.

He explained that US exports were up by 27.5 percent during the first quarter, and to Mexico by 5 percent.

“Texas is the largest export state in the United States,” he said.

But the troubling news was Texas has a $20 billion shortfall and in order to balance the $180 billion budget, about 1/9 of the budget must be eliminated.

New chamber members for the quarter included: Thomas DeLeon – Loz Aztecas Market, Ennis Pediatric & Adolescent Health Care Center – Dr. Katherine Witte-Brown, Catherine Price – Denny’s, JoAnn Robertson – Texas Tickle Bugz, Jackie Self – Ennis Black Belt Academy, Jeremy Scruggs – Insurance4U4Less.com, Lorie Hines –  McDonald’s of Ennis, Kevin Tuley – Ennis Police Officers Association, Lou Petrich – ShowBiz Cinemas, Christian Hernandez – De la Costa Restaurant, Jeffery Benson – Cinergy Cinemas, Shannon Davis – Sensations, Alecia Peters – Healing Hearts Center, and Kevin Tuley – K&L Tees.

For information about the Ennis Chamber of Commerce, visit the website at www.ennis-chamber.com, or call 972-878-2625.

Cees van Gent, CEO of Lehnkering Logistics and Services, which is the parent company of Schirm Corporation of Ennis, and US Congressman Joe Barton were each recognized.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.