Employers cut jobs in 31 US states as growth slows

ByChristopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

 In this Jan. 14, 2015 file photo, some of the 60 rigs that are drilling surrounding McKenzie County, 40 percent of the rigs statewide, work in western North Dakota. Released on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, unemployment rates fell in 23 U.S. states last month and rose in 12 as employers pulled back on hiring and a slowdown in oil and gas drilling caused big job losses in some states. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers in 31 U.S. states cut jobs last month as weak economic growth weighed on hiring and a slowdown in oil and gas drilling caused big job losses in some states.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that unemployment rates rose or were unchanged in 27 states and fell in 23 states. Eighteen states gained jobs, while employment was unchanged in Idaho.

The biggest job cuts occurred in states with large oil and gas drilling, led by Texas, which lost 25,400 jobs, and followed by Oklahoma, which cut 12,900. Pennsylvania lost 12,700, the third largest loss. A sharp fall in oil prices since last June has caused oil and gas companies to cut back on drilling. Pennsylvania has benefited in recent years from the discovery of shale gas fields in the state.

Nationwide, employers added just 126,000 jobs in March, the fewest in 15 months and snapping a year-long streak of monthly gains above 200,000. The unemployment rate remained 5.5 percent.

Harsh winter weather and a labor dispute at West Coast ports that disrupted shipping dragged down the economy in the first three months of the year. Consumers, meanwhile, have saved much of the windfall they have received from cheaper gas prices, lowering spending. And a big jump in the dollar's value also has made U.S. exports more expensive and lowered overseas sales of U.S. goods.

All told, economists forecast that growth slowed to an annual rate of 1 percent or less in the first quarter, down from a roughly 3.4 percent pace in the second half of last year. Still, most analysts expect hiring and growth to rebound this spring.

The cutbacks in oil and gas production have also led to job losses in North Dakota, which had experienced an oil and gas boom since the recession. The boom sent the unemployment rate falling to the lowest in the nation.

But in February its unemployment rate rose and the state no longer had the lowest unemployment rate nationwide. It rose again in March, to 3.1 percent. Nebraska now has the lowest rate, at 2.6 percent.

Nevada reported the highest unemployment rate, at 7.1 percent.

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

Logistics Risk Management in the Transformer Industry

Transformers often are shipped thousands of miles, involving multiple handoffs,and more than a do...

Secrets of Barco UniSee Mount Revealed

Last year Barco introduced UniSee, a revolutionary large-scale visualization platform designed to...

The Time is Right for Optimum Reliability: Capital-Intensive Industries and Asset Performance Management

Imagine a plant that is no longer at risk of a random shutdown. Imagine not worrying about losing...

Going Digital: The New Normal in Oil & Gas

In this whitepaper you will learn how Keystone Engineering, ONGC, and Saipem are using software t...

Latest PennEnergy Jobs

PennEnergy Oil & Gas Jobs