Despite oil uptick, two counties see population dip | KOB 4

Despite oil uptick, two counties see population dip

Casey Torres
March 26, 2018 06:33 PM

ROSWELL, N.M. -- The U.S. Census Bureau released new population estimates for 2017 last week. The estimates showed a population decline for the Eddy and Lea counties after that same year saw an uptick in oil production. 


Jim Peach, a professor of economics at New Mexico State University, said the drop in population is not a strange thing.

"It's part of the boom-and-bust cycle of the oil industry," he said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Lea County saw a drop of nearly 1,000 people from the years 2016-2017. Eddy County lost less than 650 people.

Peach said there was a decline in oil production in 2016, so people left. But 2017 saw a boom in oil production, but the estimates did not show a population increase. Peach said other factors explain the numbers.

"It takes people a while to move in or out of a place," he said. "And the population estimates often lag a little bit of what’s going on in the industry."

The move toward more automated machinery also played a role in the estimates, Peach said.

"The things that have been going on include tremendous technological change in the oil industry and it requires fewer workers per oil rig," he said.

Peach said despite the estimates, there is nothing to worry about. He expects job prospects with the infrastructure for the expansion of the Delaware Basin. He also predicts an increase in the 2018 population estimates.


Casey Torres

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