While consumers in Texas are confident about local business conditions, many continue to express concern about the local job market and most are holding off on major purchases, according to a survey released by Capital One Bank last week

Capital One Bank has released its Market Pulse Survey, which is designed to provide insight, and develop an understanding of economic conditions over time. The survey highlights conditions currently facing Texas businesses and consumers in local markets.

The report gauges the economic outlook of businesses and consumers statewide for First Quarter 2010. Compared with last year’s first quarter survey results, Texas businesses believe economic conditions are improving, and are reporting that their financial position is better than it was one year ago, according to the survey.

Even as customers in the Valley remain cautious about the job market and personal finances, they are continuing to gain confidence, and are making investments in personnel, according to bank officials.

Local businesses in the Valley are in fact, demanding additional personnel. As local business are starting to add new employees, Capital One is seeing an increase when it comes to new accounts being opened with direct deposit requests, according to bank officials in the Valley.

The bank’s customer base continues to be centered around logistic clients, and service generated by small businesses.

“It seems that all service-related businesses in the area have a lot of optimism (and) the people are more positive due to the stability they are seeing,” said Eddie Osorio, Capital One district manager for the Rio Grande Valley. Osorio oversees the business related activities and financial results of the bank’s 13 branches in the region.

“Their (businesses) sales are starting to increase, so we are really excited from that point of view. I can concur with the survey that, comparing last year’s first quarter survey results. We believe the economic conditions are improving,” Osorio said.

Economic indicators in the McAllen area for First Quarter 2010 are modest but positive, according to the McAllen Chamber’s monthly publication, Area Economic Pulse. The report is an indicator of economic trends taking place in the area, and combines retail sales, lodging tax receipts, home sales, bridge crossings and other vital economic indicators of the region into one aggregate number. The publication is published on a monthly basis.

While the McAllen Economic Index in March enjoyed its largest month-to-month increase (164.4) since August 2006, the index remains down, by at least 3.6 percent compared to March 2009.

General spending in the McAllen metro area posted its first “year-over-year” increase in 14 months, and the largest margin of year-over-year improvement in two and a half years, with retail spending by McAllen area households and businesses up some 5.6 percent compared to March 2009. For the first quarter, sales declined by about 1.2 percent compared to the first three months of a year ago.

“I still think that, as the (Capital One) survey found, the growing optimism on the condition of the performance of businesses is still positive,” Osorio said. “I see that all the businesses are continuing to gain more confidence, and I’ve starting to see they’re starting to make investments not only in their personnel, but in expansions toward the near future.”

“We are invested in the economic well being in our community, and basically the survey was designed to provide insight and a better understanding of economic conditions over time,” Osorio said.

Some of the findings of Capital One’s Survey include:

In the first quarter of 2010, many Texans report that their personal finances are starting to stabilize. A little more than one-third (35 percent) of consumers surveyed report that their financial situation is worse than it was one year ago, down from 42 percent last quarter. Twenty percent of consumers in the state say their financial situation is better than it was one year ago while 44 percent say their personal finances have held steady.

In terms of personal savings, however, many consumers in the state continue to experience decreases. About four out of 10 (39 percent) of consumers surveyed report that the amount they have in savings has declined in the past six months. Nearly the same amount (37 percent) say their savings have held steady during this period.

Texas consumers are increasingly confident about local business conditions, with 42 percent of those surveyed reporting that area business conditions are “excellent” or “good,” up from only 29 percent one year ago.

Nearly half (47 percent) of large businesses surveyed say economic conditions for their business are improving.

About 43 percent of small businesses surveyed in Texas say their financial position is currently better than it was one year ago, a 15 percentage-point increase over last quarter results.