Texas Upstream Employment Stabilizes Thanks To Steady Oil Prices

Several months of $40-plus barrel of oil has shown its effect on jobs.

Photo of oil production well
Employment in the upstream oil and gas industry has been stable since June.

The Texas Workforce Commission reports in September, 214,000 Texans worked in the upstream oil and gas industry.

That’s still well below the number one year ago but job losses have slowed significantly and employment has stayed about the same since June.

“Recovering from a collapse in oil prices is a process and it’s an encouraging sign that upstream employment has been steady, not falling, in recent months,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said.

Upstream is the sector that deals with drilling and the initial production of oil.

Since April, the price of oil has been above $40 a barrel and even surpassed $50 this month.

But layoffs are still happening in other sectors of the oil and gas industry. Houston-based energy services company Baker Hughes just announced that it laid off 2,000 workers in the third quarter of 2016.

Ed Hirs, energy economist at the University of Houston, doesn’t expect many more layoffs this year.

“I think companies have written off as many of their assets, as many of their loss-making activities as they can,” he said. But, “if the price of oil were to drop back below $30 or into the $30s, we would certainly see another wrinkle, another downturn.”

If the recovery continues depends in large part on the actions of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Hirs said we will know more after OPEC meets next month.


Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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