Despite the flurry of multimillion-dollar deals that have coursed through the Permian Basin, the downturn continues to pound some Texas counties.
Among large counties with employment of at least 75,000, Midland County, Texas, led the nation in the largest percentage drop in employment at 5.8%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employment in Midland’s trade, transportation and utilities sector recorded the largest numerical decrease among the county sectors with a loss of 1,504 jobs—an 8.2% decline. Natural resource-related jobs took a smaller percentage hit.
For jobs only associated with natural resources and mining, employment fell 2.5% in September 2016 compared to the year before.
Average weekly wages for natural resources workers also increased through the first nine months of the year by about 13% to $1,133. However, the figure still trails first-quarter 2015’s $1,248 per week.
Midland’s overall weekly paychecks were down 0.3%.
However, other oil and gas counties boomed since the third-quarter 2015. Among Texas’ smaller 228 counties, the Midland Basin’s Irion County paid the second-highest wages in the state at $1,333 per week in third-quarter 2016.
Separating out natural resources-related employment, average pay in the county was $1,588 per week, a 33% increase compared to third-quarter 2015.
Average weekly wages in five of the 26 large Texas counties were more than 14% above the national average of $1,027 in the third quarter of 2016. Harris County led at $1,267 per week and ranked 23rd among the 344 large counties nationwide.
Smaller counties with the highest average weekly wages were located around the larger metropolitan areas of Dallas, Houston and Austin, as well as Midland, Odessa and Amarillo. Lower-paying counties were concentrated in the agricultural areas of central Texas, the Texas Panhandle and along the Texas-Mexico border.
In the Eagle Ford, natural resources employment fell in at least 18 counties associated with the shale play.
Darren Barbee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.