MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Experts say the Basin is seeing a slight improvement in unemployment rates, but it is still not where we want to be.
“We’re hoping for the best and continuing to stay strong,” said Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Economic Development, Wesley Burnett. “We feel like we’re going to be strong when we come out of this on the other side.”
According to Cargile Investment Management’s President, Mickey Cargile, locally we lost about 25,000 jobs. Midland is seeing 8.1% in unemployment, which is an improvement from 22% back in March, but is still far from numbers around 2.5% in years past.
“Turnaround is going to have a different meaning to us here in the Permian Basin. The pertroleum industry was the hardest hit, so I think we’re looking more in terms of 2 years. The main thing right now is for it to stop getting worse,” said Cargile.
The biggest impact on Midland’s economy is, and will always be the oil industry. The best indicator is to look at the number of active drilling rigs. There were 140 before the pandemic, which fell to 99, and currently sits at 119.
“So there is improvement, but we’ve got a long way to go to get back to where we were in 2019,” explained Cargile.
City of Odessa is facing 9.9% in unemployment. Compared to 2% this time last year. Wesley Burnett says it may take a vaccine to turn things around.
“I think that’s going to be a gamechanger to get our economy back going. I think that’s going to get people more comfortable with traveling, and that’s going to be a big impact on our economy and getting the oil and gas people back and start getting them back on airplanes and doing more things that are normal.”
Both Cargile and Burnett say reaching the “new nomrmal” quickly is crucial.
“Sales tax revenue — that’s where the cities get their money. If people aren’t spending as much money, there’s not enough money for government work to supply hospital services and schools and things like that. Keep our roads free of potholes. So you know, there is a direct impact for everyone.”
Cargile says one of the benefits of high unemployment is that you have a good pool of talented people to draw from. He hopes it will bring the industry into our area to help capitalize on local talent.