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Eagle Ford gives region a shot in the wallet

January 15, 2013

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-paying 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. Commerce Department‘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 that each time a new hotel opens to cater to energy companies, maids are able to jump to new jobs at higher pay.

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