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Oil and gas industry employment rising fast

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) have published figures indicating that oil and gas industry employment is growing much more rapidly than private sector employment.

Between the beginning of 2007 and end of 2012, total US private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, approximately 1%. Over the same period, oil and natural gas industry jobs increased by more than 162 000 jobs, equivalent to a 40% rise.

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) accounts for oil and natural gas industry employment in three categories: drilling, extraction, and support.

  • Drilling involves any employment relating to the spudding and drilling of wells, as well as reworking of wells, and accounted for more than 90 000 jobs by the end of 2012, an increase of 6600 jobs since 2007.
  • Extraction includes establishments primarily engaged in operating, developing, and producing oil and natural gas fields, including exploration and production work up to the point of shipment from the producing property. Employment in the extraction category numbered more than 193 000 jobs by the end of 2012, 53 000 more jobs than in 2007.
  • Support involves performing supporting activities for oil and natural gas operations, including exploration, excavation, well surveying, casing work, and well construction. Support is the largest oil and gas category, and employed more than 286 000 people by the end of 2012, up more than 102 000 jobs from 2007.

About half of workers employed in crude oil and natural gas production are in the support category of oil and natural gas industry employment, and employment in this category accounted for the majority of increases seen in oil and gas industry employment.

The three industry categories combined equal just 0.5% of total US private sector employment.

Support and drilling industries were heavily affected by the recession. However, they have recovered quickly and were only minorly affected by the temporary moratorium on offshore drilling as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

Between January 2007 and December 2012, monthly crude production increased by 39%, and monthly natural gas production by 25%. Employment in the oil and gas drilling, extraction, and support industries continue to contribute to overall private sector employment.

Oil and gas industry activity also directly supports output and employment in other domestic sectors, such as suppliers of pipe, drilling equipment, and other drilling materials.

Indirect employment stems from purchases made by industry and employees spending of their incomes. Because employee expenditures are closely tied to income, higher paying jobs such as those in the oil and gas sector, tend to have larger indirect effects on output and employment than lower paying ones.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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