Higher Energy Prices Fuel Employment Rise in the Industry

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Higher costs for fuel may be putting the pinch on many Americans' budgets, but the profits being generated from near-$4-a-gallon gasoline is driving a hiring boom within the energy industry.

Soaring quarterly profits at some of the nation's largest energy producers, including Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger -- where profits from North American operations jumped sixfold in the three months ending in June -- have resulted in at least 17,200 new U.S. oilfield jobs during the quarter, reports The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required).

Labor Department data from May show there were 413,500 jobs involving oil and gas extraction and the businesses that support the industry. More oil and gas extraction jobs were added in June, although updated data for supporting industry employment isn't yet available, the Journal notes.

Though hiring in the sector is robust, it isn't sufficient to budge the nation's stubbornly high 9.2 percent overall unemployment rate.

Schlumberger Chief Executive Andrew Gould told the newspaper that he's concerned about a shortage of skilled workers as demand for energy exploration continues to rise.

"The ability to provide both North American and international markets with required people in a continued growth phase will be a challenge," Gould says.

Oil and gas industry employment in Texas is the highest it's been in the Lone Star State since 2008, the Houston Business Journal reports.

Total oil and gas industry employment in the state reached about 224,200 in June ­-- a 15 percent increase from a year ago, according to the Texas Petro Index.

That number is higher than employment figures reached at the peak of the industry's previous boom -- 223,200 in October 2008, the business weekly notes.

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