Jul 20, 2017

Oilfields are a U.S. jobs bright spot

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.

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.