Employment in the U.S. oilfield services (OFS) and equipment sector climbed for the fifth consecutive month in January, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analysis by the Energy Workforce and Technology Council.

OFS Jobs

“After shedding nearly 102,000 jobs from March to August due to pandemic-related demand destruction, the upstream oil and gas industry has added back approximately 21,000 positions over the past five months,” the Council noted.

An estimated 8,421 jobs were added in January. The sector gained an estimated 5,717 jobs in October, 3,651 in November, and 933 in December, the BLS data showed. 

“OFS sector employment rose 1.4% in January as companies reopened some production to prepare for expected demand increases as more people are vaccinated,” researchers noted. “Uncertainty remains because of the high number of Covid-19 cases, which continue to suppress demand.”

The monthly Oilfield Services and Equipment Employment Report, compiled and published by the Council, which represents 600 OFS members, estimated job losses from demand destruction because of Covid-19 now total 81,061. Since January 2020, about 80,014 jobs have been lost across the domestic OFS sector.

Estimated OFS sector jobs in the United States declined from 706,528 in February 2020 to 625,467 last month, down 11.5%. 

“Losses were heaviest in April, when the sector shed 57,294 jobs — the largest one-month total since at least 2013,” the Council noted. “The jobs lost in 2020 represent annual wages of approximately $15.4 billion.” 

Job losses were heaviest among companies that provide support services for oil and gas extraction. This portion of the OFS sector has cut 72,580 jobs since the pandemic’s onset  — 89.5% of the sector’s total job losses.

OFS job losses last year were estimated to be heaviest in Texas, down 56,200, and in Louisiana, which lost 10,800 jobs. The states are the two leaders for oil and gas production, the Council noted.

According to the BLS data, oil and gas jobs cut last year also were in order Oklahoma, 9,800; Colorado, 5,200; New Mexico, 4,800; California, 4,700; Pennsylvania, 4,600; North Dakota, 4,000; Wyoming, 2,900; Ohio, 2,100; Alaska, 2,000; and West Virginia, 1,900.

The statistics were compiled using BLS data and with researchers from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. 

The BLS data, which is preliminary for December and January, is subject to revision. The data covers the economic activities of companies involved in oil and gas extraction, construction and manufacturing. Total employment is estimated using the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and its monthly jobs data.

The Council’s members are involved in oilfield equipment manufacturing, drilling, well completions, well services, pressure pumping, renewable energy technology/servicing and geothermal development.