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Midland, Texas Ainít Pretty, but It Works
National Review ^ | 05/30/2013 | Kevin D. Williamson

Posted on 05/30/2013 7:35:59 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

New figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm what everybody already knows: If you’re looking for a job in Cleveland, Ohio, your best bet is a one-way ticket to Midland, Texas.

Midland is not the most scenic spot in the United States. (Its sister city, Odessa, was described as “the worst town in the world” in Larry McMurtry’s Texasville.) Imagine one square mile of downtown Atlanta plopped into the middle of a largely featureless savannah and you’ll have the idea. But the average rent on an apartment there is nearly twice what it is in nearby cities of comparable size, and rents are up more than 20 percent year over year — if you are lucky enough to get an apartment. Official unemployment is about 3 percent; real unemployment is effectively zero. The reason for that is a booming energy industry. But it’s a different kind of boom: Whereas previous Texas oil-and-gas booms have been driven largely by prices, this boom is under way when oil prices are high but not dramatically so, and natural-gas prices are on the low side (last year, they were at 13-year lows). This isn’t a price bubble, but real production improvements driven by technological advances.

Nellwyn Barnett of the Midland Chamber of Commerce is not telling any fairy tales. Sure, the capital of the West Texas oil patch has tried to diversify its economy, and has had some success, but it’s still an energy town. “Energy is our bread and butter, our primary industry,” she says. “Rather than try to paint a picture of a diversified economy for the media, we embrace energy. But there has been a great deal of diversification within the industry, which gives us a lot more stability than we’ve had in our past.” While wind energy is a significant economic presence on the edges of the Permian Basin, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling mean that oil-and-gas outfits can go after more sources of energy from previously impractical locations. And horizontal drilling means that they can do so with less surface-level environmental impact. Among the non-energy businesses setting up shop in Midland, the city is particularly proud of XCOR, a private aerospace firm specializing in suborbital flight and rocket-engine development. Both its headquarters and its R&D facilities are relocating from their original location in Mojave, Calif. In addition to the obvious economic benefits, the move will confer a unique distinction on the city: Midland International will be the only facility in the United States that is both a commercial airport and a designated spaceport.

Spacecraft and oil rigs might seem to be miles apart, but in truth the two high-tech industries have a great deal in common: a constant need for engineers, technicians, and scientists, a focus on materials development (XCOR has a line in developing non-flammable plastics), and shared environmental concerns.

Like their counterparts in the rest of the country, Midland’s oil-and-gas operators have been collaborating to keep ahead of environmental issues, working from the theory that they are better off in the long run going above and beyond what the law requires than pushing the envelope with the EPA and state regulators. Case in point: The sand dune lizard, as homely a West Texas creature as there is, had become a candidate for the endangered-species list. Rather than wait around for environmental regulators to tell them what they may and may not do in the lizard’s habitat, energy companies in Texas and New Mexico got together with state lawmakers, drew up their own conservation action plan, and presented it to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which signed off on voluntary conservation agreements that will protect nearly 90 percent of the lizard’s habitat. (Texas comptroller Susan Combs, who announced on Wednesday that she would not seek elected office again in 2014, was instrumental in putting the deal together.)

“Rather than say, ‘We can’t do this,’ we’re saying ‘How can we do this while maintaining the ecosystem?’” Barnett says. “The current legal standards may be good for today, but what about tomorrow? We’re taking a long-term approach.”

The downside, if you want to call it that, is that Midland and the surrounding areas have been left with some pretty high-class problems: There are not enough houses and apartments for all of the new workers flooding into the Permian Basin, and the allure of high-wage jobs in the energy industry has made it hard to hire people for jobs in retail, services, and — most critical — education. Last year, Midland was obliged to petition the state for waivers of student-teacher-ratio rules in its schools. Getting back within state guidelines has meant hiring new teachers, which has been a challenge with so much competition from the energy business.

Educational institutions are a critical factor: Midland College, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, and Texas Tech University all offer energy-oriented academic programs that help keep the oil and gas rigs staffed. Since it is harder to get people to move to West Texas than to get them to move to the big coastal metropolises, Midland’s work-force strategy is focused locally.

But those tempted by California or the East Coast should know this: According to a 2012 report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Midland had a higher per capita income than did Silicon Valley, and the second-highest per capita income in the nation, trailing only the posh Connecticut suburbs of New York City. At the opposite end of the employment spectrum is Atlantic City, N.J. Having spent some time in both cities, I can tell you that you will seldom find two towns as different as Midland and Atlantic City. Atlantic City’s economy is based on a fundamentally non-productive enterprise — gambling — the politics and economics of which I explored at some length here. An economy based on gambling has foundations in fantasy; an economy based on energy has its foundations in the real world. There will be ups and downs, inevitably, but the energy industry, plagued for decades by short-term thinking and fly-by-night business models, shows every sign of settling in for the long term. Unless the federal government suffocates it — a real danger — it has the potential to transform the U.S. economy. And not only in Midland: The only thing preventing an energy renaissance in New York and California is politics.

“West Texas is not for everyone,” Barnett says. “For people relocating from other parts of the country, it can be startling.” In other words: It ain’t pretty, but it works. “But,” she adds, “if you want a job in Midland, Texas, you can find it.” If you happen to be in El Centro, Calif. (unemployment rate 24 percent), Cleveland (4,300 jobs lost last year), or Atlantic City (4,700 jobs lost last year), a regular paycheck might prove to be a lovely thing. Try not to step on the lizards.

— Kevin D. Williamson’s new book is The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: midland; texas
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1 posted on 05/30/2013 7:35:59 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Filter the water out there. Yuck.... The people are nice overall. Gotta lot of wind action out west Tx way.


2 posted on 05/30/2013 7:45:05 AM PDT by tflabo (Truth or Tyranny)
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To: SeekAndFind

Absolutely spot on.

Don’t live there, but know people who do. People who found jobs there, who aren’t from there.

And so many people are going to work for oil and gas related businesses, other jobs are going begging. Ordinary jobs of all kinds are begging for people. Teachers, fire fighters, police, clerical, retail, supervisory, mid-level managers YOU NAME THEM are leaving their jobs in Midland and going to work for oil and gas related businesses.

So even if you don’t get a job in that high paying field you can get a job doing just about anything else that you can minimally qualify or be trained for.


3 posted on 05/30/2013 7:45:31 AM PDT by txrangerette ("...hold to the truth; speak without fear..."(Glenn Beck))
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To: SeekAndFind

Midland counts on 53-story tower as oil again buoys Texas
http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/04/12/midland-counts-on-53-story-tower-as-oil-again-buoys-texas/

It turned out to be 53 stories big, potentially the tallest office building between Los Angeles and Dallas, and almost twice the height of anything in the onetime hometown of former presidents George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.

Jacobs, the president of Wexford Capital LP, with $5 billion in assets, views the $350 million Energy Tower office- hotel-condominium project as the centerpiece of the Permian Basin, the source of almost 60 percent of Texas’s oil last year. Midland County, with a population of about 147,000, was the fastest-growing metropolitan area as of July, the U.S. Census Bureau said last month.


4 posted on 05/30/2013 7:49:50 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: LUV W

Ping.


5 posted on 05/30/2013 7:49:50 AM PDT by Publius
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To: txrangerette

“Teachers, fire fighters, police, clerical, retail, supervisory, mid-level managers YOU NAME THEM are leaving their jobs in Midland and going to work for oil and gas related businesses.”

Does Midland have a central job listing one can review?


6 posted on 05/30/2013 7:54:44 AM PDT by Hulka
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To: Hulka

TRY THE LINKS PROVIDED BY GOOGLE HERE:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Midland+Texas+jobs+listing&oq=Midland+Texas+jobs+listing&aqs=chrome.0.57j61l2j0.3859j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


7 posted on 05/30/2013 7:56:01 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Oh, and leave your communist PC ways behind. We don’t give a whit about your political “cause du jour”; you will be politely asked to sit down, shut-up and get back to work.


8 posted on 05/30/2013 7:56:46 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: Hulka

https://www.google.com/search?q=midland+jobs&oq=midland+jobs&aqs=chrome.0.57j0l3j62l2.2619j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


9 posted on 05/30/2013 7:57:12 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Publius; SeekAndFind

Thanks! The assessment isn’t wrong.

We are booming and we have, in Odessa, 7 auto accidents a day due to the fact that we have more crazy drivers to contend with!

I work a for a retail jeweler and we can’t find a full staff because we can’t pay near what the oil/gas companies can!

...and yes, it’s ugly. But if people want to work, they can’t be too darn picky! :)


10 posted on 05/30/2013 7:59:06 AM PDT by LUV W (All my heroes wear camos!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Hint #1: Don’t EVEN bother to come if you don’t have a place to stay before you get here. There are some RV parks, but not enough, and they can’t build houses and apartments fast enough. All the hotels are full because oil fields are renting the rooms for their employees who don’t yet have a place to live.

Hint #2: Don’t come at all if you’re liberal! We don’t need ya down here! LOL!


11 posted on 05/30/2013 8:05:45 AM PDT by LUV W (All my heroes wear camos!)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

Yep!

Liberals, do not apply! :)


12 posted on 05/30/2013 8:08:19 AM PDT by LUV W (All my heroes wear camos!)
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To: LUV W

My better half, a travel nurse, did a six month stint in Odessa a couple of years ago and fell in love with the place. Would go back in a heartbeat. When her assignment was over she called and asked if I would come down there and drive back to Tennessee with her. I said yes. Flew into Midland, she picked my up and we drove to her apartment in Odessa. I finally found out where nowhere was. Did like it though. Wouldn’t mind a return trip.


13 posted on 05/30/2013 8:13:22 AM PDT by animal172
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To: SeekAndFind

THANK YOU


14 posted on 05/30/2013 8:17:37 AM PDT by Hulka
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To: animal172
I finally found out where nowhere was.

You just thought it was Nowhere but I can assure you that you can see it from there since it's just that flat. For that matter, you can stand on top of tuna can and look around the world to see the back of your own head.

15 posted on 05/30/2013 8:34:45 AM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: animal172

Odessa is somewhere. Midland is somewhere. Nowhere is in between, Monahan.


16 posted on 05/30/2013 8:40:03 AM PDT by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
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To: T-Bird45; animal172

Many of us in the oil industry would laugh at the thought that was nowhere.

You ain’t seen nowhere until you work in the lower 48 and are still 100 miles to the nearest Walmart.

In Yemen, I worked 60 miles from the nearest paved road, and it was 40 miles past that point to the nearest local flush toleit (not counting our own).


17 posted on 05/30/2013 8:41:03 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: going hot
Midland Pecos.
18 posted on 05/30/2013 8:41:38 AM PDT by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
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To: animal172

Well, glad you got to see “nowhere”! It really does exist! Or as we call it....the armpit of Texas!

We are a friendly bunch, though, and I hope you really enjoyed your stay! Oh, and come on back! :)


19 posted on 05/30/2013 8:42:04 AM PDT by LUV W (All my heroes wear camos!)
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To: Arrowhead1952; NYTexan; mylife; Eaker; TheMom; laurenmarlowe; El Gato; RebelTex; smokingfrog; ...

Ping to my Texas Ping List! :)


20 posted on 05/30/2013 9:09:13 AM PDT by LUV W (All my heroes wear camos!)
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