U.S. oil and gas wages set April record despite shale industry consolidation

David Wethe, Bloomberg June 07, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Wages for U.S. oil and gas workers set a fresh record in April as a wave of acquisitions in the shale industry has yet to impact the labor force.

Average hourly earnings for front-line oil and gas workers rose 0.5% from March to $44.67, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. Compared with a year ago, oil pay is up 3.2%. The strength in wages matched a national trend, pushing back bets for Federal Reserve rate cuts.

The U.S. oil and gas industry is in the midst of major consolidation, with the sector’s five biggest deals in the past 12 months totaling almost $200 billion in debt and equity. As shareholders demand growth in returns, shale bosses are buying their competitors to cut costs and extend the life of their assets. But those planned cost reductions have yet to impact workers in a significant way.

The overall number of oil and gas workers employed in the industry rose less than 1% on a month-over-month basis to 119,900 in May. The jobless rate in oil and gas did climb to 3.1% in May on an unadjusted basis, compared with 1.8% a year earlier.

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