Although close to 30 percent of Laredo’s population lives below the poverty level, a wealth of natural resources and trading opportunities has led to a strong economy. The transportation, warehousing and distribution sectors have long been sources of dependable revenue for the city. More recently, oil and gas conglomerate Eagle Ford Shale has moved onto the scene, and its natural gas and oil drilling activities has increased city employment and led to an increase in sales tax growth. The third-largest city along the US-Mexico border, it has been shielded somewhat from the US recession and is able to operate like a quasi-global economy. The city’s budget has notched seven consecutive years of general fund operating surpluses. The metro population has grown by more than a third since 2000. More than 95 percent are Hispanic.