Employment in the oilfield services (OFS) and equipment sector in the U.S. rose by an estimated 23,015 jobs in March, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and analysis by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council (Council). 

The monthly Oilfield Services and Equipment Employment Report, compiled and published by the Council, estimates a peak of 102,000 pandemic-related job losses. Since then, the industry has gained back more than 23,000.

“The sector has been on a rollercoaster the past year with a precipitous drop in jobs due to the pandemic, modest gains in the fourth quarter of 2020, and more cuts in December, January and February,” the Council said in the report published on April 5.

OFS sector employment grew 3.8% last month as companies brought more rigs online to begin boosting production as more people are vaccinated and demand rises, according to the report. The Council said jobs gained last month represent annualized wages of approximately $2.6 billion. 

Routine BLS revisions reduced lost jobs in February to 7,697 from the 10,048 it reported one month ago. According to the revised data, the sector cut 1,322 positions in January.

Over the past year, OFS sector jobs in the U.S. are estimated to have dropped from 691,866 in March 2020—when the oil price collapse from the COVID-19 crisis first hit—to 628,362 in March 2021, a decline of 9.2%, according to the Council using BLS data in consultation with researchers from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. Losses were heaviest in April 2020, when the sector shed 57,294 jobs—the largest one-month total since at least 2013. 

“Losing the innovative men and women who comprise the OFS sector jeopardizes development of the innovative technologies that increase efficiency, improve environmental performance, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the Council said in the report.

OFS job losses since February 2020 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 states hit hardest by OFS job losses due to the pandemic are:

  1. Texas — 39,000
  2. Louisiana — 6,700
  3. Oklahoma — 6,100
  4. Colorado — 3,200
  5. New Mexico — 3,000 
  6. California — 2,900
  7. Pennsylvania — 2,800
  8. North Dakota — 2,500
  9. Wyoming — 1,900
  10. Ohio — 1,300
  11. Alaska — 1,200
  12. West Virginia — 1,200

The Council is the national trade association for the oilfield services and equipment sector, representing more than 600,000 jobs in the technology-driven energy value chain. More than 600 member companies are involved in oilfield equipment manufacturing, drilling, well completions, well services, pressure pumping, renewable energy technology and servicing, geothermal development and more.