In the Daily Beast last week, Joel Kotkin revisited the energy debate and its implications for the U.S. economy. Kotkin argued for more domestic fossil-fuel development in part by pointing to the continuing energy employment boom: The six fastest-growing jobs in the nation from 2010-2011 were oil & gas extraction-related, according to an EMSI analysis.
The numbers that Kotkin cited were from the second of four EMSI data releases for 2011. Much has changed since (including six quarterly updates of our labor market data), so what about now?
Well, sure enough, the oil & gas sector still dominates the fastest-growing jobs list. Based on our recently finalized 2012.4 data release, the six occupations with the highest job growth rate from 2011-2012 (and seven of the top 10) are riding the fossil-fuel wave:
- #1 Derrick operators, oil and gas: 8.2% growth since 2011, 1,730 jobs added
- #2 Petroleum engineers: 7.6% growth, 2,607 jobs added
- #3 Service unit operators, oil, gas, and mining: 7.5% growth, 3,783 jobs added
- #4 Roustabouts, oil and gas: 7.2% growth, 4,024 jobs added
- #5 Rotary drill operators, oil and gas: 7.1% growth, 1,627 jobs added
- #6 Wellhead pumpers: 7.1% growth, 1,057 jobs added
- #9 Geological and petroleum technicians: 5.7 growth, 940 jobs added
The rest of the top 10:
- #7 Biomedical engineers: 6.0% growth, 1,112 jobs added
- #8 Computer-controlled machine tool operators: 5.8% growth, 7,561 jobs added
- #10 Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders: 5.6% growth, 1,060 jobs added
Note: These job numbers are for salaried employees and self-employed workers, based on data from the BLS, Census Bureau, and other publicly available sources. Our 2012 data for salaried employees (QCEW Employees) are partial estimates; for self-employed workers, EMSI’s latest dataset provides estimates based on the 2011 American Community Survey and 2010 Nonemployer Statistics.
Oil & Gas: Growing But Still Small
Though we’re talking about a short time frame, none of the oil & gas extraction occupations in bold above have grown by huge numbers; the largest is roustabouts, with just over 4,000 estimated new jobs nationwide since 2011. The growth rates are impressive, yes, but it’s helpful to keep in mind just how small the oil & gas workforce is compared to other sectors — even after years of tremendous job gains.
The following chart provides some context. Of the 20 industry supersectors in the U.S., mining, quarrying, and oil & gas extraction has grown at the most rapid rate over the last decade (43%), but it still only accounts for an estimated 784,070 jobs. That’s just a fraction of, say, health care (17.8 million jobs) or government (24.2 million jobs).
Six Fastest-Growing Occupations in Detail
Let’s look at each of the six fastest-growing occupations in detail and see where in the U.S. these jobs are booming. All the data and screengrabs come from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based tool.
1. Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas
Things to know: This is an all-male occupation. … More than 9,300 of the estimated 22,791 jobs as of 2012 are located in Texas. … Workers at the top end of the wage curve in this field make $31.16 per hour on average; that’s not significantly higher than the median wage.
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "484" not found /]
2. Petroleum Engineers
Things to know: Three out of 10 petroleum engineers in the U.S. (nearly 11,000 total) are located in Houston, as the table below shows. … Men make up 96% of this occupation. … Petroleum engineers earn more than $123,000 per year at the median level, and $221,000 at the top 10% of the wage curve. … Sixty percent of workers in this field have at least a bachelor’s degree, and another 26% have an advanced degree (master’s or above).
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "485" not found /]
3. Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining
Things to know: This is the largest occupation among the six fastest-growing jobs. … Again, men make up all workers in this field. … More than 40% of service unit operators work in Texas, and nearly 6,000 of those jobs are in the Houston MSA. … Nationally, this occupation has almost doubled since 2001 (from 28,841 jobs to 54,256 jobs).
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "486" not found /]
4. Roustabouts, Oil and Gas
Things to know: The definition for this job, according to the BLS: “Assemble or repair oil field equipment using hand and power tools. Perform other tasks as needed.” … Of all these six fastest-growing occupations, this one has one has the most estimated annual openings (new jobs plus turnover). … Roustabouts have the smallest median hourly earnings ($15.82) of any of the jobs we’re detailing.
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "487" not found /]
5. Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas
Things to know: Houston is home to more than 3,700 of the estimated 24,507 jobs in this field. … Williston and Dickson, N.D., have seen huge growth among rotary drill operators. … More than half of these workers are staffed in the support activities for oil and gas operations industry (NAICS 213112). … Nearly half of the people in this occupation have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "488" not found /]
6. Wellhead Pumpers
Things to know: This is all-male occupation. … More than half of these workers are 45 or older. … This is a relatively small occupation, but it balloons to more than 71,000 jobs if we include “extended proprietors” who earn supplemental income in addition to their main job.
Metros with most jobs added since 2011:[table "489" not found /]
Data and analysis for this post came from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market tool. Follow us on Twitter @desktopecon. Email Josh Wright if you have any questions or comments, or would like to see further data.