The bad news: The southeastern New Mexico county is still facing a housing, teacher and police officer shortage.
According to the latest EnergyPlex economic index released last week by the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, the county showed a 13th straight quarter of improvement, the Hobbs News-Sun reports (http://bit.ly/19NMSEn).
During the second quarter of 2013, Lea County's economy grew by 7.9 percent over the same quarter in 2012. The index is a reflection of the general economy and indicates that spending, taxable business receipts, construction and employment continue on the rise.
Karr Ingham, an economist from Amarillo who prepares the EnergyPlex index, said employment in Lea County continues to register solid improvement and the county's growth should continue into 2014.
Vehicle sales are up by 29 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year, while other retail and oil and natural gas gross receipts were down slightly from the same quarter of the previous year.
In addition, $34 million were reported in building permit valuations, which is the largest quarter on record. The next highest quarter for building permit valuations was in 2004, with $25 million.
"High building permit valuation speak to both the economic environment resulting in high levels of construction activity, as well as the stimulus to the local economy provided by carrying out those construction projects in terms of employment, purchase of building materials, utilization of local contractors, and so on," Ingham said.
The state Taxation and Revenue Department also reported a jump in gross receipts taxes for Hobbs.
But while the area continues to see a boom, the county is still struggling with finding enough housing for residents and attracting and keeping teachers, who sometimes quit for more lucrative jobs in the oil industry.
The Hobbs Police Department also is facing a shortage of qualified officers that now has funding for 90 officers.
"We are currently six officers short, however, we were authorized an additional 14 positions this year due to the growth in our community," Hobbs police spokesman Mike Stone told The Associated Press. "We struggle to recruit locally due to a shallow qualified applicant pool (and) due to the booming local economy."
Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com