OPEC is apparently considering putting caps on oil production in Libya and Nigeria. These two countries were excused from the supply cuts announced last November because civil unrest has already savaged their output so much that they need every barrel they can get.
Full jobs data for oil and gas extraction and support workers come with a one-month lag, so the latest numbers, reported last Friday, are for May. These largely continued the trend of recovery -- albeit with one or two important differences.
Overall, the oil and gas sector added 6,700 jobs in May, the third-highest month on record. After a savage downturn, the workforce is growing, year over year:
All the gains in headcount in May came from lower-paid support workers, while higher-paid roles -- classified as "extraction" workers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- have been essentially flat since February. Moreover, growth in hourly earnings has screeched to a halt, or even gone into reverse:
That helped ease the pain of the drop in average oil prices in May. Using public data on U.S. oil and gas production and prices for oil and gas, it is possible to calculate a crude estimate of the industry's wage bill as a proportion of revenue. This doesn't take account of hedging or regional price differences, but it gives a sense of how high the wage burden is over time:
Still, it is a slim hope. The U.S. oil-rig count resumed climbing last week after a one-week hiatus. Meanwhile, even a big drop in oil inventories couldn't revive the market, which focused instead on continuing increases in U.S. output and exports.
With all those able bodies hard at work in Texas, perhaps it's no wonder OPEC's calling up the B-team.topics from