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.

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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.

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NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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