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U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories might be in short supply, but so are U.S. shale workers, according to new data released by the Labor Department on Friday.
U.S. shale companies could have a harder time finding workers, the new data suggests, which showed that the number of workers employed in U.S. oil and gas jobs fell to 133,800 in September—a 4.8% decrease from July, which was this year’s high.
On Friday, the Labor Department showed the unemployment rate fell to 2.5% in September, from 2.6% in August. To compare, the unemployment rate last September was 7.3%.
Even prior to the most recent oil price hike this week, the most recent Dallas Fed report showed that activity in the oil and gas sector expanded at a healthy clip in the third quarter. Costs for this sector, however, continue to rise quarter after quarter—with virtually all of the 58 firms the Dallas Fed surveyed reporting higher input costs.
And if the oil and gas sector hopes to maintain its workforce, it may have to up the ante when it comes to wages, although most oil and gas companies in the United States have operated with extreme caution over the last couple of years, fearing taking on too much too quickly, instead focusing on returning money to shareholders and focusing on buybacks.
Crude oil prices climbed significantly this week as OPEC+ agreed to decrease its production targets by 2 million bpd—a move that will likely see about a million barrels per day come off the market based on current levels of production.
The United States oil industry has come under fire this year for its lack of investments, with the White House, under the pressure of looming midterms, accusing the industry of price gouging and of not ramping up production quickly enough.
Crude oil production in the United States has increased by 300,000 bpd this year, according to the most recent weekly EIA data.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.