The (Continued) Explosion of Oil & Gas Extraction Jobs

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient (Natl Avg. = 1.00)
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Williston, ND (48780) 937 1,179 242 26% $25.62 247.31
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 1,398 1,575 177 13% $21.68 3.14
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 2,372 2,521 149 6% $21.01 5.55
Lafayette, LA (29180) 394 485 91 23% $21.11 17.99
Dickinson, ND (19860) 286 362 76 27% $27.21 113.6
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 804 860 56 7% $21.95 8.55
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 130 166 36 28% $27.92 0.89
Hobbs, NM (26020) 322 356 34 11% $25.76 71.39
Greeley, CO (24540) 64 94 30 47% $19.74 6.09
Odessa, TX (36220) 533 560 27 5% $23.04 48.32
Midland, TX (33260) 501 523 22 4% $20.98 40.13
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM (16100) 155 173 18 12% $25.34 41.27
Grand Junction, CO (24300) 103 121 18 17% $24.47 11.63
Indiana, PA (26860) 53 71 18 34% $16.20 12.22
Minot, ND (33500) 29 45 16 55% $28.77 6.38

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 10,206 10,987 781 8% $64.51 15.01
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 2,486 2,888 402 16% $74.11 3.57
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 1,468 1,629 161 11% $72.11 10.05
Midland, TX (33260) 847 962 115 14% $63.59 45.87
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX (12420) 554 629 75 14% $65.08 2.83
Lafayette, LA (29180) 397 471 74 19% $48.57 10.83
Williston, ND (48780) 161 216 55 34% $89.66 28.15
Tulsa, OK (46140) 717 758 41 6% $64.85 6.68
Bartlesville, OK (12780) 188 225 37 20% $48.91 38.52
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA (26380) 72 106 34 47% $44.50 4.15
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 176 209 33 19% $48.61 0.7
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX (41700) 279 311 32 11% $72.71 1.26
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI (16980) 84 111 27 32% $43.65 0.1
Odessa, TX (36220) 62 82 20 32% $70.61 4.37
Greeley, CO (24540) 99 119 20 20% $59.31 4.79

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient (Natl. Avg. = 1.00)
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Williston, ND (48780) 1,389 1,820 431 31% $25.52 160.34
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 5,566 5,911 345 6% $19.26 5.46
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 2,304 2,625 321 14% $19.51 2.2
Lafayette, LA (29180) 1,367 1,613 246 18% $17.60 25.11
Dickinson, ND (19860) 423 558 135 32% $27.07 73.56
Greeley, CO (24540) 683 810 127 19% $16.43 22.08
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 500 599 99 20% $16.92 1.35
Hobbs, NM (26020) 910 997 87 10% $24.05 83.96
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 775 861 86 11% $18.76 3.59
Midland, TX (33260) 1,820 1,885 65 4% $19.13 60.79
Grand Junction, CO (24300) 613 677 64 10% $18.81 27.42
Indiana, PA (26860) 236 286 50 21% $15.24 20.86
Odessa, TX (36220) 788 837 49 6% $23.06 30.32
Minot, ND (33500) 106 151 45 42% $21.94 9.07
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM (16100) 448 492 44 10% $23.65 49.43

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient (Natl. Avg. = 1.00)
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Williston, ND (48780) 1,192 1,589 397 33% $18.64 127.32
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 2,770 3,162 392 14% $16.86 2.4
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 4,323 4,676 353 8% $16.52 3.93
Lafayette, LA (29180) 1,223 1,460 237 19% $15.34 20.66
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 1,688 1,814 126 7% $18.08 6.88
Dickinson, ND (19860) 361 485 124 34% $19.88 58.19
Hobbs, NM (26020) 1,333 1,439 106 8% $15.50 110.17
Greeley, CO (24540) 370 463 93 25% $16.18 11.48
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 418 510 92 22% $16.28 1.05
Midland, TX (33260) 1,177 1,236 59 5% $14.52 36.25
Odessa, TX (36220) 976 1,032 56 6% $18.52 34.01
Minot, ND (33500) 156 211 55 35% $20.38 11.55
Carlsbad-Artesia, NM (16100) 670 724 54 8% $15.37 66.16
Grand Junction, CO (24300) 460 513 53 12% $18.22 18.89
Salt Lake City, UT (41620) 220 273 53 24% $16.44 0.98

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient (Natl. Avg. = 1.00)
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 3,486 3,710 224 6% $28.99 7.59
Williston, ND (48780) 282 415 133 47% $30.32 80.95
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 475 606 131 28% $25.03 1.12
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 1,386 1,478 92 7% $24.69 13.66
Lafayette, LA (29180) 382 473 91 24% $22.86 16.3
Dickinson, ND (19860) 86 127 41 48% $32.26 37.2
Greeley, CO (24540) 168 209 41 24% $24.16 12.61
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 165 205 40 24% $25.61 1.02
Midland, TX (33260) 716 754 38 5% $34.22 53.82
Odessa, TX (36220) 496 523 27 5% $27.66 41.99
Indiana, PA (26860) 136 161 25 18% $16.65 25.95
Grand Junction, CO (24300) 220 244 24 11% $29.04 21.89
Hobbs, NM (26020) 117 139 22 19% $45.80 25.94
Minot, ND (33500) 38 55 17 45% $37.51 7.29
Salt Lake City, UT (41620) 30 45 15 50% $30.75 0.4

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:

Metropolitan Statistical Area 2011 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change Median Hourly Earnings 2012 Location Quotient (Natl. Avg = 1.00)
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2012.4 Class of Worker
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (26420) 1,206 1,395 189 16% $23.26 4.37
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (19100) 311 442 131 42% $24.74 1.25
Oklahoma City, OK (36420) 611 677 66 11% $22.67 9.58
Williston, ND (48780) 240 305 65 27% $24.12 91.21
Lafayette, LA (29180) 294 344 50 17% $26.26 18.17
Midland, TX (33260) 403 449 46 11% $23.42 49.06
Bradford, PA (14620) 254 294 40 16% $19.23 151.29
Pittsburgh, PA (38300) 274 313 39 14% $17.17 2.39
Greeley, CO (24540) 177 201 24 14% $23.42 18.61
Hobbs, NM (26020) 341 362 21 6% $18.77 103.23
Dickinson, ND (19860) 74 95 21 28% $26.04 42.52
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX (12420) 64 84 20 31% $20.83 0.86
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA (26380) 121 141 20 17% $17.48 12.62
Tulsa, OK (46140) 405 425 20 5% $17.51 8.59
Indiana, PA (26860) 153 169 16 10% $16.06 41.65

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.

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