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Oil Bust Takes Its Toll
     Carolyn Van Houten/SA Express-News/ZUMA (bios)
The sun burned through makeshift curtains, warming the apartment and throwing half-light across what remained in Devin Meurer's life. The dog, the clothing heaped on the couch, the work boots discarded in the corner. The first layoff seemed so long ago. So did the second one. But his boss had called to warn him the company might close. Plunging crude oil prices had spooked investors. ''The contracts kind of blew up. The investors may not put more money in,'' Meurer said. ''He said we may all be looking for a job.'' Crude oil's multiyear boom has turned to bust, catching Meurer and thousands of other workers in a cycle that has played out for generations in Texas. The state could lose 140,000 jobs tied to the oil field this year, a forecast the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve expects may worsen. Oil has tumbled from $100 per barrel last year to below $50 last week. Economists talk about the supply-demand lesson playing out - how the world market has signaled to the industry it must stop pumping so much oil. Operators speak of technology gains and ''transitioning the company to be successful in a lower oil price environment.'' But in the same way barbed-wire fences and thorn brush hide the workaday tasks of the oil patch, economic models and dry corporate reports don't reveal what's happening in hardscrabble communities - the pawned TVs, fractured relationships and RVs rolling out of South Texas to someplace more hopeful. ''This is my rock bottom right now,'' Meurer said. ''Hopefully, I just don't lose that job.''
Oil Bust Takes Its Toll
     Carolyn Van Houten/SA Express-News/ZUMA (bios)
The sun burned through makeshift curtains, warming the apartment and throwing half-light across what remained in Devin Meurer's life. The dog, the clothing heaped on the couch, the work boots discarded in the corner. The first layoff seemed so long ago. So did the second one. But his boss had called to warn him the company might close. Plunging crude oil prices had spooked investors. ''The contracts kind of blew up. The investors may not put more money in,'' Meurer said. ''He said we may all be looking for a job.'' Crude oil's multiyear boom has turned to bust, catching Meurer and thousands of other workers in a cycle that has played out for generations in Texas. The state could lose 140,000 jobs tied to the oil field this year, a forecast the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve expects may worsen. Oil has tumbled from $100 per barrel last year to below $50 last week. Economists talk about the supply-demand lesson playing out - how the world market has signaled to the industry it must stop pumping so much oil. Operators speak of technology gains and ''transitioning the company to be successful in a lower oil price environment.'' But in the same way barbed-wire fences and thorn brush hide the workaday tasks of the oil patch, economic models and dry corporate reports don't reveal what's happening in hardscrabble communities - the pawned TVs, fractured relationships and RVs rolling out of South Texas to someplace more hopeful. ''This is my rock bottom right now,'' Meurer said. ''Hopefully, I just don't lose that job.''