How did Texas’ oil capital do in the price crash?

Guy Cummings (left), Carl Merworth (center, rear) and Desiderio Castillo (right) attach a 90-foot section of pipe onto the end of an active drill pipe on the drilling floor of Robinson Drilling rig #4 on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Midland County. James Durbin/Reporter-Telegram
Workers attach a 90-foot section of pipe onto the end of an active drill pipe on the drilling floor of Robinson Drilling rig #4 in 2016 in Midland County. James Durbin/Reporter-Telegram

Houston’s not the only Texas town to handle the 2-year-old oil price crash better than previous downturns.

Early indicators suggest Midland, the West Texas city whose economy is entirely reliant on the oil-and-gas industry, didn’t lose nearly as many residents as officials there expected.

Take one marker: school enrollment.

Since 2009, Midland Independent School District enrollment has grown by one-quarter, or more than 5,000 students, to almost 25,000 in total.

Sure, there was a big spike as the oil boom was ramping up in 2013. The district added 2,200 kids, or about 10 percent of its population, then. But families continued to enroll their children even as oil prices tanked, companies shut down and workers lost jobs. The district logged 800 more in 2014, 200 more last year and 150 more this school year.

Everyone assumed there would be a mass exodus out of Midland last May when school got out, Jerry Morales, Midland’s mayor, told me earlier this fall. “But nothing happened,” he said. Moreover, the city didn’t notice a rash of foreclosures.

“That tells you people didn’t leave Midland,” he said. “They’re riding out the worst.”

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