Odessa GDP growth tops nation
Feb 23, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Odessa saw the fastest economic growth of any metropolitan area in the country in 2011, according to data released Friday by the federal government, which attributed the growth to expansion in wholesale and retail trade.
The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis concerns real gross domestic product, measured as the total value of all goods and services sold. And in the Permian Basin, the driving force of those goods and services was the oil and gas industry.
Odessa's GDP grew 15.2 percent, the data show. Midland's growth rate ranked second at 9.5 percent.
Among the 10 largest metropolitan areas, two of the fastest growing were in Texas. Houston topped the list at a rate of 3.7 percent.
"What do all of these things have in common It's their strong connection to the oil and gas business, which is much more concentrated in the Midland and Odessa area than in Houston," local economist Karr Ingham said.
More oilfield service companies in Odessa might explain why its growth rate exceeded Midland's, said Mike George, chief executive officer of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. During the boom, Odessa has also seen more hires at its medical and educational institutions.
GDP doesn't necessarily reflect quality of life. Critics note, for example, that GDP can include the cost of damage by pollution as a positive factor in its calculations but exclude lost value of unpaid costs of harm.
Growth can also become "overheated," Ingham said, though he stopped short of applying that characterization to growth in Odessa.
"It's certainly rapid growth, and it's growth that's outpacing, at least for the moment, the ability to keep up with infrastructure and housing," Ingham said. "It will take some time for those things to sort themselves out. But I think most people accept having to deal with these issues because of the benefits on the positive side of the ledger that far outweigh the negative."
The positives: strong job growth and greater opportunity for people up and down the income spectrum.
Other negatives associated with rapid economic and population growth include municipal vacancies, inflationary costs of living and increases in crime and traffic accidents, as the Odessa American has reported in previous stories.
"We see these problems as being good problems to work on. We all can remember when we had problems because of the bust," George said. "The bust created hundreds of vacant homes, closed down businesses and caused a lot of unemployment. We would much prefer to work on the problems associated with economic growth and very low unemployment."
Contact Corey Paul on Twitter @OAcrime on Facebook at OA Corey Paul or call 432-333-7768.
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