By Corey Paul
Odessa American Online – The Odessa metro area’s population growth should outpace the Midland metro by nearly 18,000 people during the next five years, according to a recent projection from Ray Perryman, the economist who runs the Perryman Group.
The metropolitan statistical areas of both cities stand out as among the fastest growing in the nation, with an influx population amid an oil boom that exceeds historical trends.
But why would the Odessa MSA’s population growth be greater?
Perryman said the main reason is that the Odessa MSA, which includes all of Ector County, sees additions to the west of the city and outside the city limits — in various communities of Gardendale, Penwell, Notrees and West Odessa.
“The growth does pose some capacity issues that will require careful planning,” Perryman said.
In 2013, Perryman calculated the Odessa MSA’s population at 170,746 people. The Midland MSA had slightly fewer people, about 168,108.
The economist projected the Odessa MSA will grow to 211,209 people in 2018 at an annual rate of about 4.35 percent. Meanwhile, the Midland MSA, will increase to about 190,747 people, a rate of about 2.56 percent.
Rapid population growth makes reliable figures difficult to come across, said Guy Andrews, economic development director for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, who fields requests for such information from developers considering whether to expand into the area.
“It really is difficult, because you’ve got so many people living in temporary housing and that sort of thing, just to get a handle on that,” said Andrews, who planned to use the recent report to answer developers’ inquiries.
Perryman’s estimates relied on preliminary censuses for 2012 and 2013 that Perryman said he buttressed with other data. Census estimates extrapolate historical data, but a sudden boom muddles that outlook.
So Perryman’s projections prove useful in giving those interests a sense of what the market will look like in the three years it could take them to develop an apartment complex, for example, or a housing subdivision.
The challenges of such increases in population include the well-documented strains such as shortages in law enforcement officers and teachers, along with a rise in crime and living expenses. Then there are the logistics of just absorbing the people, developing enough housing and other infrastructure such as roads and utilities.
“That level of expansion kind of puts a strain on the organization, but we are keeping up,” said Randy Brinlee, the city’s director of planning and transportation. “We are trying to be prepared for it.”
In the meantime, higher-than expected crude prices so far this year meant a boost for the Odessa and Midland economies that may delay the long-expected relief on the housing and labor markets, according to another economist, Karr Ingham, who prepares monthly reports for Midland and Odessa development organizations.