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A new presentation from the Dallas Fed has a chart that caught my eye. It shows how employment in one key part of the industry — extraction and supporting activities — has not bounced back alongside U.S. production, which fell sharply in 2015 after prices collapsed but has been moving up again for a year and heading for record levels.

Expand chart
Data: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Kunal Patel, a senior research analyst with the Dallas Fed, offered some insight in an email exchange:

"There are likely a variety of factors causing employment to not keep up with rising production. Primarily, efficiency gains (faster drill times and more production output per well) are allowing operators to produce more with less people," Patel said.

  • Some evidence: He notes that the oil rig count as November 10 was 738, which is slightly under half of the 2014 average, yet production has risen by by about a million barrels per day over the last year to the current level of roughly 9.6 million barrels per day.

"Additionally, greater use of technology is likely leading to automation of some tasks and allowing operators to be streamlined and more efficient. Big data has also allowed the industry to be more efficient," Patel said.

Go deeper: He highlighted this Bloomberg piece on industry adoption of advanced tech and data analysis, and this Dallas Morning News story on industry employment trends and technology.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.