Hourly Pay for Shale Workers Tops $43

Hourly Pay for Shale Workers Tops $43
Wages for US oil workers climbed above $43 an hour for the first time ever.
Image by zorandimzr via iStock

Wages for US oil workers climbed above $43 an hour for the first time ever as unemployment held steady in the shale patch for explorers looking to arrest slower production growth.

Average hourly earnings for front-line oil-and-gas workers rose 0.7% in April from the previous month to $43.28, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. Compared with a year ago, pay is up 12%. The relative strength in shale employment data bucked an overall national trend in the economy that saw the jobless rate jump and paycheck growth ease.

While wages in the shale patch have been forecast to continue increasing — albeit at a slower pace — over the next couple of years, explorers are already beginning to report cost deflation for key equipment as demand for oilfield services weakens. That could ultimately lead to a cooling off in workers’ earnings, too. 

The jobless rate in oil and natural gas held at 1.8% in May on an unadjusted basis, government figures show. That compares with an unemployment rate of 4.1% a year earlier. 

The overall number of workers employed in the industry totaled 119,000 in May, down 3.2% from last year’s peak.


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