Where oil-rich Texas sees economic gains

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says there's solid ground for improvement.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Updated Nov. 21, 2016 at 2:34 PM
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DALLAS, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Some semblance of stabilization in the energy sector has resulted in a net positive for the state of the Texas economy, a regional banker said.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported unemployment fell in all nine major metropolitan areas in the state last month. Keith R. Phillips, a senior economist at the bank, said there were broad indicators showing modest growth was likely in the months ahead.

"With the stabilization of the energy sector and some recent improvement in the manufacturing sector, the Texas economy is on solid ground and will likely improve moderately in 2017," he said in a statement.

Crude oil prices have leveled off in the mid- to upper-$40 per barrel range for much of the latter quarter of 2016, after falling below $30 per barrel during the first quarter of the year. In June, Phillips said recovery was slow, pointing to the lower fuel prices that came as the result of lower crude oil prices as one of the few bright spots for the state.

At the time, he said outlook for growth in 2016 was "somber" with little hope for recovery before the end of the year.

Houston hosts the headquarters of several energy companies that were forced to cut payrolls early this year and the Dallas bank said in its latest assessment there should be a 1.5 percent growth in employment for 2016, an upward revision from last month's estimate of 1.2 percent.

"An increase in new well permits and the oil price were positive contributors," the bank reported.

An assessment from the federal Energy Information Administration finds the Permian shale basin in Texas hosts about as much exploration and production activity as the rest of the country combined. An assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey found the state's Wolfcamp shale reserve, which lies inside the Permian basin, may be the largest ever assessed in the country.

Over the past 12 months, Texas has produced about 1 billion barrels of crude oil.

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