Journally Speaking: Job growth ticks up

Aug. 2, 2021

Employment in the US energy sector continues to rise with an increase in economic activity and strengthening demand for oil and natural gas.

The US energy technology and services sector added an estimated 8,002 jobs in June, the fourth consecutive month of growth, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analysis by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. 

Employment in the sector has grown slowly and relatively steadily in first-half 2021 as companies, perhaps surprisingly, resisted a return to production growth in parallel with rising prices, instead remaining committed to capital discipline, reducing debt, and repaying investors.

Recall the chaos that was April 2020. The Energy Workforce & Technology Council, using BLS data and in consultation with University of Houston researchers, estimate that 57,294 jobs in the sector were lost that month.

As COVID-19 vaccine availability and demand for petroleum products have risen, so too, has job growth. Over the past 3 months, nearly 24,000 energy technology and services sector jobs have been added. With another month of growth, the sector has experienced a net increase of roughly 9,034 jobs for the year as of mid-July, according to BLS data. While employment in the sector is down considerably since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, some 18,600 jobs from the nearly 102,000 pandemic-related job losses have been restored.

The top states for employment in the energy technology and services sector—which includes oil and gas extraction, construction, and manufacturing—included Louisiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Surprising no one, Texas topped the list with an estimated increase of 4,400 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021, according to BLS data.


Not long after that July 13 report, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) released employment data for the year’s first half specifically regarding the Texas upstream sector.

TIPRO’s July 16 report showed upstream employment in the state increased by 8,766 net jobs compared with second-half 2020. The report also noted, citing BLS data, that Texas upstream employment totaled 168,450 from January to June of 2021, the majority of the gains coming from the oil and natural gas services sector.

Days later, TIPRO summarized workforce data examining employment trends in the Texas upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors for second-quarter 2021.

According to the analysis, there were 73,687 total job postings for the Texas oil and natural gas industry in the quarter. The top three cities by total unique oil and natural gas job postings were Houston (3,455), Midland (993), and Odessa (663).

Among the 14 specific industry sectors TIPRO used to define the Texas oil and natural gas industry, petroleum refineries ranked the highest in the quarter with 2,364 unique job postings, followed by crude petroleum extraction (2,358), and oil and gas field machinery and equipment manufacturing (1,604).

Recently, oil prices have been impacted by the OPEC+ decision to increase output, and the COVID-19 Delta variant threatens global oil demand by as much as 1 million b/d according to some estimates, TIPRO President Ed Longanecker noted in the July 20 report.

While hiring trends could be impacted in the short-term, Longanecker remains optimistic. “We may see a temporary slowdown in our recovery due to concerns over COVID-19 Delta variant, including some travel restrictions, but we still face a supply deficit,” he said. “The market can also absorb the additional 400,000-bbl output from OPEC and its allies, while domestic producers remain disciplined in their production goals. We may not see $100 oil anytime soon, but I remain bullish in the long-term.” 

About the Author

Mikaila Adams | Managing Editor - News

Mikaila Adams has 20 years of experience as an editor, most of which has been centered on the oil and gas industry. She enjoyed 12 years focused on the business/finance side of the industry as an editor for Oil & Gas Journal's sister publication, Oil & Gas Financial Journal (OGFJ). After OGFJ ceased publication in 2017, she joined Oil & Gas Journal and was named Managing Editor - News in 2019. She holds a degree from Texas Tech University.