As market conditions improve, activity continues to pick up in oil fields in Texas.

That means more jobs.

Oil and gas companies in the Lone Star State added 3,400 upstream jobs added in April, according to data recently released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The increase represents the 17th consecutive month of growth for oil and gas jobs in Texas, which is home to the Permian Basin—the top oil-producing region in the U.S., the Texas Oil & Gas Association said.

“Record production in the Permian Basin is driving sustained job growth in Texas,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said in a news release. “Investment and innovation in the oil and natural gas industry are not only creating good jobs for Texans but also securing our economy, our environment and our future.”

The TWC’s report showed the Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) experienced the greatest job growth among all sectors. The Midland MSA had an annual job growth rate of 11.6% in April. The mining, logging and construction drove growth for the area, adding 8,000 jobs total.

The latest drilling report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows production in Texas’ biggest oil-producing regions is set to continue rising. Oil production in the Permian is expected to end May at about 3.199 MMbbl/d, increasing to 3.277 MMbbl/d in June. Gains are also anticipated for the Eagle Ford, where oil production is expected to increase from about 1.354 MMbbl/d in May to about 1.387 MMbbl/d in June.

While the increased activity has sparked the need for more oil and gas workers, the industry still hasn’t recouped the many jobs that were lost during the downturn. The Texas Oil & Gas Association pointed out that: “Texas has recovered 33% of the jobs lost between the high point in employment in December 2014 and the low point in September 2016,” during which time the upstream sector’s job count grew by 38,400.

Good news is that progress is being made, and Texas continues to lead the nation in terms of oil and gas jobs. The Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) highlighted progress made it its annual State of Energy report. Among the highlights for 2017:

  • Texas employed 325,439 people in the oil and gas industry, accounting for 39% of all U.S. oil and gas jobs;
  • Texas oil and jobs paid on average 132% more than the average private sector job in the state—$128,635 vs. $55,380; and
  • About 7.5%, or $41.86 billion, of the Texas total payroll comes from the oil and gas industry.

The stats are a positive for the industry. But as Ed Longanecker, president of TIPRO, pointed out in a May 23 op-ed, some areas in Texas are faring better than others in terms of job growth. While the Midland and Odessa MSA has seen significant growth, the growth has not been as high in other areas such as the San Antonio-New Braunfels and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSAs.

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA saw the number of upstream jobs fall in first-quarter 2018. BP and TechnipFMC were among the latest companies announcing job cuts worldwide.

While some companies may be cutting certain jobs, shortages remain in certain areas in Texas.

“Currently, there are thousands of open positions in Texas in the support activities for oil and gas operations and drilling oil and gas wells sectors alone, the fastest growing industry segment for employment, including heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists, maintenance and repair workers, computer systems analysts, roustabouts, mechanical engineers, software developers, and petroleum engineers, to name a few,” Longanecker said in the op-ed.

“While the state may never reach 2014 levels of industry employment, and certain geographic areas of the state are slower to recover with improving economic conditions, nevertheless opportunities for employment with the oil and gas industry are increasing and a shortage already exists in several occupational fields,” he added.

Velda Addison can be reached at vaddison@hartenergy.com.