Did you notice that Midland’s civilian labor force has topped 100,000? Oil Editor Mella McEwen reported this most recently in Tuesday’s edition, and all we have to say is: wow.
Most people who keep up with this type of information expected this day to come, but we still believe topping six figures this summer is significant because it happened so quickly.
One decade ago, according to city of Midland numbers, the city’s total population was around 100,000. Oh, how things have changed. McEwen reports that since July 2004 the Midland metropolitan statistical area’s labor force gained an estimated 35,214 people, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Evidence of a turbo-charged economy can be seen as the MSA gained more than 24,000 workers since July of 2009.
We wish we could tell you how many people are in Midland and its MSA at this time. We don’t know. Estimates range from 125,000 to 140,000. Anything, it seems, is possible. What we do know are the facts.
The MSA gained more than 1,600 workers from June to July and more than 4,500 workers from July 2013 to July 2014. The city expects nearly 8,000 single-family lots or apartment units were or will be developed between 2013 and 2014. In 2015, that number should be around 3,667, according to the city. A growth rate of 4.5 percent to 5 percent — not in population but available workers — will offer challenges in terms of housing.
It’s likely that some of these workers have families, causing the number of students at MISD to increase. On Wednesday, MISD reported an enrollment of 24,072 — which is more than 1,000 greater than the figure reported to the Texas Education Agency at the end of October 2013.
However, we also think a bright spot will emerge. We need more workers to come to this area. We need workers to man the jails, build housing and develop other infrastructure, work in the restaurants, drive the buses and offer help in our stores, schools, etc. We need to replace those who have made their way into the oilfield. This newspaper is not going to be down on the oil industry’s ability to attract workers. We want a strong industry for the long term. We want our community’s leaders to keep a sense of urgency to get us through the short term and plan for the long term.
We have confidence Midlanders will get this right.