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December Employment Report: Oilfield Services and Equipment Sector Adds Jobs for 4th Consecutive Month

America’s oilfield services and equipment sector employment edged higher for a fourth month, adding an estimated 4,592 jobs in December, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analysis by the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA). 

BLS revisions showed the sector gained 1,643 jobs in September, 4,331 in October, and 4,261 in November. OFS sector employment has increased by nearly 15,000 jobs over the past four months, according to preliminary BLS data, after losing nearly 100,000 due to the pandemic.

The monthly Oilfield Services and Equipment Employment Report report, compiled and published by PESA, estimates job losses due to pandemic-related demand destruction now total 82,811. OFS employment is down 93,698 jobs since December 2019.

Using BLS data, PESA, in consultation with researchers from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, estimates OFS sector jobs in the U.S. dropped from 721,543 in February 2020 to 638,732 in December, a decline of 14.0%. Losses were heaviest in April, when the sector shed 55,710 jobs — the largest one-month total since at least 2013.

OFS employment year-over-year fell from 783,861 jobs in December 2019 to 638,732 in 2020, a decline of 12.8%. The jobs lost represent annual wages of approximately $10.6 billion. 

Job losses were heaviest among companies providing support services for oil and gas extraction. This portion of the OFS sector has cut 77,164 jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — 93% of the sector’s total job losses.

OFS sector employment rose 0.7% in December as companies continued to balance oil and gas production with uncertainty caused by the surge in COVID-19 cases, which are causing renewed lockdowns and reduced demand. 

OFS job losses are estimated to be heaviest in Texas and Louisiana, which are the nation’s leaders in oil and gas production. According to BLS data, the top 10 states in OFS job losses are:

  1. Texas — 55,200
  2. Louisiana — 9,800
  3. Oklahoma — 8,800
  4. Colorado — 4,800
  5. New Mexico — 4,300 
  6. California — 4,300
  7. Pennsylvania — 4,200
  8. North Dakota — 3,600
  9. Wyoming — 2,000
  10. Alaska — 1,700

OFS employment is estimated by analyzing data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and covers the economic activities of OFS companies, which include oil and gas extraction, construction and manufacturing. Total employment is estimated using the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, published by BLS, and jobs data reported by BLS monthly.

Note: BLS data is preliminary for the two most recent months and is subject to revision. PESA updates its monthly totals according to BLS corrections, and updates the statistical model quarterly.

For additional information or questions about the report, contact lead researcher and PESA Director of Communications and Research Kevin Broom.

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