Where Did the Oil, Gas Workers Go?

Where Did the Oil, Gas Workers Go?
Rigzone explores the industries where departed oil and gas workers migrated to the most, based on survey results.

Trying to recoup after a layoff can be tough enough in itself, but for those who have been laid off from oil and gas, an industry that ebbs and flows constantly, questions often arise of whether professionals should take their talents elsewhere.

As Rigzone explored in its first story about the oil and gas industry’s departed workers, 38 percent of respondents said they were currently unemployed, having most recently worked in oil and gas. More than half of those people were laid off. While opportunities for work, specifically in drilling and oilfield services, were sparse during the downturn, it forced some people to find opportunities in other industries outside of oil and gas. Of the survey’s more than 1,500 respondents, about 17 percent reported they are currently employed outside of oil and gas.

Industries Welcoming Oil, Gas Talent      

Laid off oil and gas workers seemed to migrate most to the construction and manufacturing industries. According to survey results, one-third entered into either construction (23.6 percent) or manufacturing (10.1 percent).

While U.S. employment in oil and gas extraction and support services saw declines month over month the past few years before reaching a low in October 2016, other industries were adding jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

An Aug. 4 detailed industry employment analysis from the BLS reported that manufacturing added 16,000 jobs in July and 100,000 jobs since November 2016. Construction jobs increased slightly by 6,000 in July, with building construction paving the way with 5,500 jobs added.

“When we place a job posting, there’s a greater concentration of candidates with oil and gas experience. Since mid-2014, it’s been consistently strong all the way around.”

Jeff Applegate, CEO of Texas Injection Molding, a Houston-based plastics manufacturing company, has seen firsthand how oil and gas professionals can transition into manufacturing work.

“Whether it be maintenance personnel, quality personnel or engineering personnel, we have hired from the oilfield for all three of these departments,” Applegate told Rigzone. Downturn “or not, the majority of applicants we see for a job come with oil and gas experience.”

Applegate started Texas Injection Molding in 2013 and said some of the best workers he’s hired have come from an oil and gas background.

“The concentration is greater,” said Applegate. “When we place a job posting, there’s a greater concentration of candidates with oil and gas experience. Since mid-2014, it’s been consistently strong all the way around.”

Certain skillsets oil and gas professionals possess (i.e. reading blueprints, technical background, familiarity with electrical controls and hydraulic systems) translate well to the type of work done at his company, Applegate said.  “Whether engineers are taking components and building something for the oilfield or taking components and building a manufacturing plant for molding … while it’s certainly not a 1:1 translation, there’s a lot of commonality in the skillset.”

Applegate mentioned he’s heard of billions of dollars of investments being made in new polyethylene plants on the Gulf Coast to take advantage of low costs for natural gas.

Manufacturing is one of six sectors accounting for the bulk of job growth in metropolitan Houston in 1H 2017, adding 10,500 jobs, according to recent data from the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP).

Methodology: Rigzone conducted the worker exodus survey using online survey tool SurveyMonkey. The survey was executed via email to Rigzone’s member database as well as the company’s social media platforms from May 11 through May 18 and garnered more than 1,500 responses from nearly 100 countries.

Valerie is an experienced writer and editor dedicated to providing useful and relevant career news about the oil and gas industry. Email Valerie at valerie.jones@rigzone.com


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Gary roach | Aug. 13, 2017
Wouldnt go back offshore because of the way we was treated by marathon in the brae field uk North Sea 18 years offshore and never been treated like a dog so much biggest back stabbers ever ,,, if I did go back it wouldnt be on a old rust bucket,,, cyber only Anyway all my Certs are out of date now and no way off ever paying for them again haha this is 1 industry that we can all say has fast turned in to a joke

I told you so | Aug. 12, 2017
I have been in oil and gas for 37 years and my advice to anybody considering this field for employment is to stay out of it. The nearest thing to oil and gas should be pumping gas in there car. The pay isnt as good as before the down turn and of course there are the lay-offs every 3-5 years., that you can count on. I'm to deep into this biz to change now, I dont know what else to do but sty with it for a while longer.

Mark Stevens | Aug. 11, 2017
I was laid off from an Engineering company back in January 2016. I immediately began applying for related positions that were open online with other engineering firms. I did receive a few offers of short-term employment on contract basis far away from my residence. The hourly compensation for these short-terms assignments were very low and the per diem being offered did not even cover motel/hotel daily costs in the area of the assignment as I did verify my expenses before replying to the recruiters. Needless to say I am still siting at home in the Houston area waiting for a turn around in our industry. I also applied for several auto sales positions, but due to my pay history and length of time in oil and gas I never received an opportunity for an interview. I refuse to give up!

MICHAEL COOPER | Aug. 10, 2017
I got laid off and was able, 8 months, later to get back in the oil and gas industry (doing well servicing) but I havent been able to get back offshore (where I was before the lay off). I cant even get back to drilling, Im working as a floorhand right now (and I have 18 years of experience, 12 of which as a driller). I was offered a roustabout job offshore today making $2.30 less an hr than I am as a floorhand on a land rig... Im struggling as it is so I couldnt afford the pay cut... For now I am just grateful to be working but hope I can get back offshore soon.


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