West Texas oil patch towns reap benefits of boom

KERMIT, Texas (AP) -- High gas prices are forcing many Americans to tighten their belts, dump their SUVs and eat more dinners at home. But in oil-rich West Texas, many folks are living large.

Drillers and energy companies in the region are raking in the cash from the runup in oil prices this summer. The most recent oil boom has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars to the area and more than 26,000 new jobs.

West Texas towns are posting some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

The housing market is also seeing a boost. In Midland County, homes stay on the market for only a month. And home prices are up 16.5 percent.

Worldwide demand for oil and improved drilling technology could keep the West Texas boom alive for at least another decade.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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