Texas oil job cuts eased in June, economist says

HOUSTON – Texas drillers have handed out pink slips to 1 of 5 employees since last June, but lately, the pace of the industry’s job cuts has slowed.

Energy producers and oil service companies across the state cut 900 jobs last month. That’s not a big loss compared with the 7,000 to 8,000 jobs eliminated in January and February, says Texas economist Karr Ingham.

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Recent second-quarter conference calls have shown just how bad it got in the spring. Three oil field service companies – Schlumberger, Halliburton and FMC Technologies – said they cut a combined 14,000 jobs in the second quarter.

The new data point on June’s energy job losses, published as part of Ingham’s Texas Petro Index report on Monday, suggests the next few months may not be as grim for the industry as the last few.

Ingham said a slowdown in job cuts could be a sign that Texas energy employment levels will bottom out in August, six months after crude prices hit $26 a barrel and started climbing higher.

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But Texas oil companies aren’t “out of the woods yet,” Ingham said. “It’s still an industry in contraction.”

Texas drillers pumped 96.3 million barrels of oil last month, down 7.2 percent compared with the same month last year. That bounty of crude oil brought in $4.4 billion, 26 percent less than the year before, according to data collected by Ingham for the Texas Petro Index.