Oilfield Services Job Losses Top 10,000 for February

Oilfield Services Job Losses Top 10,000 for February
An analysis of preliminary BLS data by the Energy Workforce and Technology Council shows a loss of 10,000-plus OFS jobs last month.

Employment in the U.S. oilfield services and equipment (OFS) sector declined by an estimated 10,048 jobs last month, concludes an analysis of preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by the Energy Workforce and Technology Council.

The finding marks the third consecutive month of domestic OFS job losses, and the initial February figure represents more than 80% of the 12,321 lost jobs that the Council has tallied for the three-month period. The Council pointed out that routine BLS revisions show relatively modest OFS employment decreases of 1,747 jobs in December 2020 and 166 positions in January 2021. The national OFS industry organization, which counts more than 600 member companies, added that the sector gained 11,282 jobs from September through November 2020.

“OFS sector employment has stagnated as companies continued reducing costs, improving balance sheets and cash flow, and did not significantly boost production,” the Council noted in a written statement. “Analysts believe production could increase as more people are vaccinated and demand rises.”

Given February’s sharp, five-figure decline, Rigzone asked the Council if the extended period of unusually cold weather in Texas and elsewhere in the Central U.S. during the middle of the month could have been a contributing factor.

“It’s possible that weather had some effect – the BLS survey went into the field on February 14, and Winter Storm Uri was from February 13-17,” said Kevin Broom, the Council’s director of communications and research. “The BLS reports that response rates were slightly lower, but within their norm. They didn’t say whether response rates varied by region of the country.”

Broom added that three straight months of OFS job losses likely suggest that other factors are at play, though.

Based on BLS data, the Council and researchers from the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs estimate the number of OFS jobs in the U.S. dropped by 14.5% overall from February 2020 to February 2021 – from 706,528 to 603,732, respectively.

The Council also reported that BLS figures show Texas has lost more OFS jobs since February 2020 than any other state: an estimated 56,000 positions. Louisiana (10,800) and Oklahoma (8,600) took the next two spots in terms of OFS job losses. Here are the estimated OFS employment declines for the past year in other oil and gas-producing states:

  • Colorado: 4,200 jobs
  • New Mexico: 3,800
  • California: 3,700
  • Pennsylvania: 3,600
  • North Dakota: 3,200
  • Wyoming: 2,400
  • Ohio: 1,700
  • Alaska: 1,600
  • West Virginia: 1,500

According to the Council, OFS job losses in 2020 translate into annual wages of roughly $15.4 billion. It also noted that OFS sector employment is at its lowest level since at least 2013.

The Council pointed out that BLS figures are preliminary for the two most recent months and are subject to revision.

To contact the author, email mveazey@rigzone.com.


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