Eagle Ford pushes incomes in South Texas up 13.62%

Fuel Fix:
The Eagle Ford Shale is turning out to be more than an oil boom. It’s also a shot in the wallet, pulling up personal income in counties across the region — some of the poorest in the state.

With a sudden abundance of well-paid oil field jobs, counties with Eagle Ford Shale wells permitted or in production saw an average increase in per capita income of 13.62 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Texas as a whole saw an increase in per capita income of 1.34 percent during that time period, which included the last recession. Average pay reached $40,147.

The average Eagle Ford county’s per capita income increased from $28,148.92 in 2008, when the boom started, to $31,893.92 in 2011, the latest year for which data is available.

In some counties, income growth outpaced Texas as a whole even more dramatically.

“There’s full employment, literally,” said Larry Dovalina, city administrator in Cotulla in La Salle County, where personal income rose 31 percent in the wake of the oil boom. “Everybody who wants a job has one.”

Dovalina said all employers have had to raise wages to try to retain workers, even for service jobs. The local McDonald’s has a “help wanted” sign with pay at $10 an hour, and Dovalina said each time a new hotel opens to cater to energy companies, maids are able to jump to new jobs at higher pay.

“It’s not just the oil field,” Dovalina said. “It’s all being pushed up or pulled up.”

Dimmit County had the biggest percentage jump in average income, at 36.4 percent. McMullen County’s average personal income jumped 35.9 percent between 2008 and 2011.


Chris Kemp, hospitality manager for Cotton Logistics, a Katy-based company that provides worker housing at The Lodge and other sites throughout the shale play, said that even food service jobs can pay as much as $12 to $15 an hour.

“This is an opportunity that didn’t exist before, and it’s open to everyone,” Kemp said.


Companies spend so much on drilling rigs and equipment that the cost of hiring workers pales in comparison.

There is more.  West Texas is seeing similar employment and growth in income.  Fast food places in Midland are paying even more than they are in South Texas.  It shows the benefit of a growing economy and a competitive marketplace for jobs.   This growth is also leading to growth in the job market in San Antonio and Houston.


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