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Report finds US oilfield services sector gained 23 000 jobs in March

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American oilfield services and equipment sector employment rose by an estimated 23 015 jobs in March, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analysis by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council (Council).

Routine BLS revisions reduced lost jobs in February to 7697 from the 10 048 it reported one month ago. According to the revised data, the sector cut 1322 positions in January 2021. The sector has been on a rollercoaster the past year with a precipitous drop in jobs due to the pandemic, modest gains in 4Q20, and more cuts in December, January and February.

The monthly Oilfield Services and Equipment Employment Report, compiled and published by the Council, estimates a peak of 102 000 pandemic-related job losses. Since then, the industry has gained back more than 23 000.

Using BLS data, the Council, in consultation with researchers from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, Texas, estimates OFS sector jobs in the US dropped from 691 866 in March 2020 to 628 362 in March 2021, a decline of 9.2%. Losses were heaviest in April, when the sector shed 57 294 jobs — the largest one-month total since at least 2013.

The jobs gained last month represent annualised wages of approximately US$2.6 billion.

OFS sector employment grew 3.8% last month as companies brought more rigs online to begin boosting production as more people are vaccinated and demand rises.

The Council is the national trade association for the oilfield services and equipment sector, representing more than 600 000 jobs in the technology-driven energy value chain. More than 600 member companies are involved in oilfield equipment manufacturing, drilling, well completions, well services, pressure pumping, renewable energy technology and servicing, geothermal development, and more.

OFS job losses since February 2020 are estimated to be heaviest in Texas and Louisiana, which are the nation’s leaders in oil and gas production. According to BLS data, the states hit hardest by OFS job losses due to the pandemic are:

  • Texas — 39 000
  • Louisiana — 6700
  • Oklahoma — 6100
  • Colorado — 3200
  • New Mexico — 3000
  • California — 2900
  • Pennsylvania — 2800
  • North Dakota — 2500
  • Wyoming — 1900
  • Ohio — 1300
  • Alaska — 1200
  • West Virginia — 1200

OFS employment is estimated by analysing data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and covers the economic activities of OFS companies, which include oil and gas extraction, construction and manufacturing. Total employment is estimated using the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, published by BLS, and jobs data reported by BLS monthly.

BLS data is preliminary for the two most recent months and is subject to revision. The Council updates monthly totals according to BLS corrections, and updates the statistical model quarterly.

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