The oilfield services and equipment sector employment in the U.S. rose by an estimated 8,421 jobs in January, a fifth consecutive month of growth, according to a report by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council published Feb. 8.

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 said in its report which is based on preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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

Using BLS data, the Council, in consultation with researchers from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, estimates the oilfield services (OFS) sector jobs in the U.S. dropped from 706,528 in February 2020 to 625,467 in January 2021, a decline of 11.5%. Losses were heaviest in April, when the sector shed 57,294 jobs—the largest one-month total since at least 2013.

The jobs lost in 2020 represent annual wages of approximately $15.4 billion. 

OFS Employment 2019-21 Graph
OFS Employment Month-to-month Change (2013-present) Graph
(Source: Energy Workforce & Technology Council)

Job losses were heaviest among companies providing support services for oil and gas extraction. This portion of the OFS sector has cut 72,580 jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—89.5% of the sector’s total job losses.

Further, OFS job losses are estimated to be heaviest in Texas and Louisiana, which are the nation’s leaders in oil and gas production.

“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 wrote in the report.

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.

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.

BLS data is preliminary for the two most recent months and is subject to revision.