Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Friday, June 08, 2018
Some Permian Basin workers get 100 percent pay raises as oil boom creates labor shortage
Jerry Morales, the mayor of Midland, Texas, and a local restaurateur, is being whipsawed by the latest Permian Basin shale-oil boom.
It's fueling the region and starving it at the same time. Sales-tax revenue is hitting a record high, allowing the city to get around to fixing busted roads. But the crazy-low 2.1 percent unemployment rate is a bear. As the proprietor of Mulberry Cafe and Gerardo's Casita, Morales is working hard to retain cooks. As a Republican first elected in 2014, he oversees a government payroll 200 employees short of what it needs to fully function.
"This economy is on fire," he said from a back table at the cafe the other day, watching as the lunchtime crowd lined up for the Asian Zing Salad and Big Mo's Toaster hamburger.
Fire, of course, can be dangerous. In the country's busiest oil patch, where the rig count has climbed by nearly one third in the past year, drillers, service providers and trucking companies have been poaching in all corners, recruiting everyone from police officers to grocery clerks. So many bus drivers with the Ector County Independent School District in nearby Odessa quit for the shale fields that kids were sometimes late to class. The George W. Bush Childhood Home, a museum in Midland dedicated to the 43rd U.S. president, is smarting from a volunteer shortage...The labor shortage is inflamed by the real-estate market: The supply of homes for sale is the lowest on record, according to the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. The $325,440 average price in Midland is the highest since June 2014, the last time the world saw oil above $100 a barrel. Apartment rents in Midland and Odessa are up by more than a third from a year ago, with the average 863-square-foot unit commanding $1,272 a month.
That's one reason the Ector County Independent School District has more than 100 teaching positions open, said spokesman Mike Adkins. People who move for jobs are stunned by the cost of living. Armin Rashvand's apartment is smaller and costs more than the one he rented in Cleveland before moving last August to run the energy-technology program at Odessa College.
"That really surprised me," he said, because Texas's reputation is that it's affordable. "In Texas, yes -- except here."...MORE