VIDEOTake an up-close look at Loving County’s growth

State's Emptiest County Filling Up With Oil Workers, Hope

The smallest county in Texas by population may not hold that distinction for much longer. Loving County has about 90 people but swells by hundreds each day due to a flood of oil workers.

While some complain about the added dust in the air and a spike in accidents — both from the surge in drilling trucks — County Judge Skeet Jones sees the oil boom as a lifeline from extinction. He and other local officials are setting the stage for Loving County to welcome new residents and reverse a decades-long decline in population.

Loving County

Loving County by the Numbers

2000 2010 2013
Population 67 82 95
Oil production (barrels) 124,000 112,000 506,000
Natural gas production (cubic feet) 1.7B 7.8B 3.4B
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Texas Railroad Commission