This Is What Happens When Your Small Local Town Finds Oil (Hint: $)

More

In 2008, drilling companies discovered prodigious amounts of accessible crude under the Eagle Ford Shale formation in Southeast Texas. Development was derailed a bit due to the recession, but from 2010 to late 2011, the impact on local paychecks has been staggering. Average wages in the region have grown about 14 percent. Total wages shot up 25 percent. And in the top five earning counties in the area, they've grown 63 percent.  

Here's a graph of that transformation from new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Total wages are shown in the red line, job growth in the blue bars.

Texas_Eagle_Ford_Employment.PNG

The effect on jobs has been significant, if not quite as dramatic. Overall, employment grew by about 15,000 between 2010 and late 2011, or roughly 5.9 percent a year. It's not a giant leap from where the region was pre-recession, when it was mostly known for natural gas production.

So what does this tell us in the big picture? First, drilling will make a region wealthy, but it won't necessarily generate mass employment. Second, while gas may be a boon for a local economy, it's nothing compared to the riches oil will bring. Oil is considerably more profitable than natural gas. And with profits come paychecks.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In