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Oil boom driving growth

Census: Permian Basin growing, but still slower than larger metros

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Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 7:00 am

If there were any denying the growth in the Permian Basin, the U.S. Census has released numbers that will change your mind.

Between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012, Midland and Odessa placed first and fifth respectively on the Census’ list of fastest growing metro areas in the country by percent increase. Midland was listed as growing at 4.6 percent while Odessa was listed as growing at 3.4 percent. For Micros, Andrews was listed as No. 4 with a percentage increase of 4.7 percent.

The U.S. Census defines a Micropolitan area as an urban area having more than 10,000 residents, but less than 50,000.

State Demographer Lloyd B. Potter said on average, Texas’ population has grown by 2 percent every year in the last decade.

“The growth you’re experiencing, the majority of it is domestic migration,” Potter said. “That migration … is largely being driven by oil and gas extraction.”

But that doesn’t mean that Midland and Odessa had the biggest growth in term of numeric increase.

The population in Dallas-Fort Worth grew by 131,879; while Houston came in second with 125,185 new residents. Both Texas metropolitans grew larger than other cities like New York and San Francisco.

“The percent increase, it’s sometimes a bit misleading,” Potter said. “Let’s say you have 100 people and add 100 new residences, you’d grow 100 percent. In looking at the numbers, you have to pay attention to the numeric increase as well (as percentage growth).”

But Potter said that doesn’t mean the growth in the area isn’t impressive.

“If you’re growing above 2 percent a year, you’re growing faster than the state and other areas,” he said.

Economist Ray Perryman of the Perryman Group said between 1973 and 1981, Odessa, and Midland were also placed on similar lists because of the oil industry. Other cities with oil-rich industries such as Lafayette, La., and the Bakken formation area in the Dakotas also have seen exponential growth.

Perryman used the “Leading Locations for 2012: Ranking MSAs for Economic and Job Growth” list from the publication “Area Development” to explain how oil industries have increased and have been beneficial in expanding areas that wouldn’t typically see large growth.

“(The) fact that most of the other top spots were claimed by places like Lafayette, La., and the Bakken area in the Dakotas demonstrates just how significant oil production is in the health of various communities these days,” Perryman said in an email.

In South Texas, communities near the Eagle Ford Shale also have seen more growth, but didn’t see the same amount of growth that Odessa and Midland saw.

“Any growth that occurs will likely happen in the urbanized areas of the state,” Potter said. “If you look at the Eagle Ford Shale, there’s smaller (because) the growth is more dispersed then what (West Texas) is experiencing. It kind of has to be concentrated because there isn’t anywhere else for the growth to take hold.”

In Odessa, growth has been a double-edged sword for city and county officials.

Odessa City Manager Richard Morton said officials in each department plan according to growth to see what they need for their budget. In terms of housing, that comes down to contractors who want to build new housing.

“There’s probably not an employer in town that doesn’t need extra workers,” Morton said. “The community is trying to catch up with new apartments and new housing … but the good news is the community is growing.”

Morton also said the city is in the beginning stages of formulating another comprehensive plan. The last time a plan was written was about 20 years ago, Morton said.

“The community visioning portion of it that will have people saying ‘OK, we know what we are today, what do we want to be five years, 10 years, 20 years on down the road?’” Morton said. “We will want to know what our citizens want this city to be.”

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