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Jobs are returning to the U.S. oil patch after three straight years of bloodletting that included 206,000 layoffs and the bankruptcy of more than 125 companies. A 27-month plunge in oilfield employment is over (chart below), and companies have added about 2,500 jobs so far this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it's important: The oil patch is among the few bright spots for job-seekers with less than a college education. Even so, the jobs that are surfacing are not unskilled — they require training and often licenses. With a tight job market, companies are going to have to increasingly offer that training to attract and keep sufficient numbers of workers.

Expand chart
Data: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., US Energy Information Administration; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

More hiring appears likely: According to a new report by Fitch, the rating agency, U.S. shale drillers can manage through oil prices averaging as low as $45 a barrel, even less than the $47.09 where they closed Wednesday, which explains a 142% rise in the number of working rigs in the U.S. since the nadir in May 2016.

As long as oil prices are in the current band, the U.S. market will remain buoyant, and there will likely be intense economic pressure on the world's petro-states, like Russia and Saudi Arabia, most of which are having to support themselves through deficit spending.

Go deeper

Cuomo scandal snares Dems on #MeToo

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images   

The searing sexual harassment allegations made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo are trouble for Democrats far beyond Albany and New York.

Why it matters: They hammered Donald Trump after the "Access Hollywood" tape. Pilloried Brett Kavanaugh over Christine Blasey Ford. Defended President Biden when he was accused of inappropriate touching. Now, Democrats have to show whether they walk the "#MeToo" talk.

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.