Shale Workforce Tightens

Shale Workforce Tightens
The job market in the US shale patch is showing further tightness.

The job market in the US shale patch is showing further tightness as drillers struggle to find enough workers to meet output targets this year, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

The unemployment rate fell to 2.5% in September from 2.6% in the prior month on an unadjusted basis, government figures show. That compares with an unemployment rate of 7.3% a year ago.

Oil companies are hesitant to boost wages dramatically as they seek to keep a lid on skyrocketing costs. As a result, oilfield workers have been looking elsewhere for a higher pay, with renewables being the most popular landing spot. Workers will have to wait until 2024 to see double-digit annual wage hikes, according to industry consultant Rystad Energy. Pay this year is expected to climb 2.9%, Rystad said in May.

Labor shortages in the oilfield have been one of the biggest hurdles holding back production growth. The inability to find enough workers to drill new wells and frack them could pose an additional challenge to the Biden administration as it pushes for more output after OPEC+’s decision to cut supply.

The number of workers employed in US oil and gas jobs totaled 133,800 last month, down 4.8% from this year’s peak in July.

The broader mining and logging industry, of which oil and gas is a part, is the farthest behind of any sector in recovering its pandemic job losses, down 7.7% from February 2020.


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