Ernest Moniz, U.S. energy secretary
Photograph by F. Carter Smith — Bloomberg via Getty Images

As the oil industry faces steep job cuts, the U.S. government is taking action.

By Benjamin Snyder
January 23, 2015

The Energy Department announced Friday the creation of a Jobs Strategy Council to support job growth for U.S.-based clean energy positions. Additionally, the council will focus on implementing President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, an initiative announced by the White House in June 2013 to cut U.S. carbon pollution, prepare the country for climate change and work with other countries, such as China, to fight climate change, according to the report.

“The Council will integrate the research, technical and economic resources of the Energy Department to respond to the workforce and economic development needs of the energy industry,” according to Friday’s announcement by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“The energy sector has created tens of thousands of good-paying jobs that lay the foundation for long-term careers and provide a major opportunity for social mobility in disadvantaged communities,” added Moniz in a statement. “Technological advances in oil and gas extraction, the doubling of renewable energy production in five years, and steady growth in energy efficiency are instrumental for America’s economic recovery and will continue to be imperative to supporting innovation for our 21st century energy system.”

The council will be comprised of 20 members from the Energy Department. There will also be “interagency partnerships” the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs. It will meet quarterly and be chaired by the Energy Secretary.

Interestingly, the government reported that “between 2003 and 2012, employment in the oil and gas industry increased by 155 percent.”

The government’s unveiling of the initiative comes at a time when numerous oil companies are slashing jobs due to the tumbling price of a barrel of crude oil. The price of under $50 per barrel is the lowest since 2009. Meanwhile, the U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline is near to falling below $2, according to AAA. Baker Hughes, an oilfield services provider, said Tuesday it planned to layoff 7,000 workers.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a company that helps laid off workers find new jobs, released a report Thursday on energy companies that have cut positions in the last two months. They are:

1. Schlumberger SLB , 9,000 jobs cuts announced on 1/19/2015

2. Baker Hughes BHI , 7,000 jobs cuts announced on 1/19/2015

3. Halliburton HAL , 1,000 jobs cuts announced on 12/18/2014

4. U.S. Steel Corp. oil and natural gas pipe mills, 614 jobs cuts announced on 12/31/2014

5. ConocoPhillips COP , 530 jobs cuts announced on 1/15/2014

6. Apache APA , 250 jobs cuts announced on 1/15/2014

7. U.S. Steel Corp. oil and natural gas pipe mills, 142 jobs cuts announced on 12/31/2014

“While falling oil prices will generate job losses for many companies in this field, others will benefit greatly from less expensive oil,” said John A. Challenger, the CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement.

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