Energy Index Fueled by Job Growth

Industry employment growth helped to push the Oklahoma Energy Index to another record.
Using data compiled in April, the OEI reached 221.0 in April, up from 220.0 in March and up 7.7 percent from the April 2006 index of 205.2. Oklahoma’s crude oil and natural gas industry is continuing to make an impact on the Oklahoma job market.
Energy companies have added an estimated 5,800 jobs in the last year, a 15 percent increase from one year ago.
Data from the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission shows “support activities,” including oilfield service companies and drilling companies, added 3,300 jobs over the past year.
“There are a great many people involved in the industry that are not accounted for in these numbers,” said Karr Ingham, the economist who compiles the Oklahoma Energy Index. “Owners of smaller companies would be considered self-employed, and other workers, for one reason or another, are technically not included in these estimates.”
Ingham said energy industry job growth continues despite a slowdown in other areas of the state’s energy economy. Prices remain favorable, though both oil and natural gas prices paid to Oklahoma producers are below year-ago and historical levels. The rig count also remains below year-ago and historical levels.
“The demand has existed for these jobs for a considerable period of time,” said Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association Chairman John Pilkington, an independent producer from Tulsa.
“Four years ago, the industry was facing a shortage of qualified labor. However, a growing industry and higher industry wages have attracted qualified workers back into the oil patch.”
Despite the leveling off of many energy index indicators, Pilkington said Oklahoma’s crude oil and natural gas industry continues to operate at a high level.
“The state’s oil and natural gas will remain strong and active for the foreseeable future,” Pilkington said. “And it will remain the driving force behind overall statewide economic improvement.”

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