Oil and Gas, Coal Post Deep U.S. Job Losses
Low oil prices have led to nearly 100,000 planned layoffs in the United States in the last four months, and more are likely to follow.
“Oil-producing states such as North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana are catching the brunt of the cutbacks,” USA Today reported last week. Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, an oil producer that is tracking companies’ layoff announcements, reports 91,000 cuts, including 69,000 by oilfield services companies like Schlumberger and Baker Hughes.
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Meanwhile, a modelling study published in the journal Energy Policy calculated that the U.S. coal industry lost 50,000 jobs over the last five years. “Coal has struggled, amid mounting concerns about its contributions to greenhouse gas pollution and increased regulatory initiatives by the Obama administration,” the Washington Post reports. “It doesn’t help that electricity demand has flattened, and activists have worked to retire a large number of coal plants.”
Earlier this year, the White House proposed $55 million in transition and economic diversification funding for coal counties in West Virginia and Kentucky. Energy and climate analysts have argued that the industry had been losing jobs for years due to changes in technology, long before the government finally began addressing carbon pollution.
Factors cited in the Energy Policy study included the 2008/09 recession, shifting prices of competing energy forms, the fracking revolution, and federal renewable energy incentives. Over the five years covered by the study, natural gas added 94,700 jobs, while wind and solar added 79,000.