The Lone Star State employed 224,200 workers in exploration and production in June, according to the Texas Petro Index -- more than the 223,200 at the height of the last energy boom in October 2008 and nearly 15 percent more than in June 2010, said Karr Ingham, the Midland economist who created and maintains the index.The Lone Star State continues to enjoy an unemployment rate lower than the national average. It was 8.2 percent in Texas in June, compared to a national unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.
Oil production also beat out natural gas as the dominant Texas fossil fuel product by value during the first six months of 2011, reversing a trend that started in 1997 when natural gas began to dominate the state's energy production.
"In the past 12 months, the industry has added more than 28,600 jobs, which is nearly 13 percent of all jobs added to the Texas economy," Ingham said.
The oil and gas industry only accounts for about 2 percent of the state's entire workforce payroll, Ingham says, but it tends to have an oversized impact on the entire state economy because it is so capital-intensive. By some estimates, as much as two-thirds of Texas' job creation in the past year could be tied directly and indirectly to the oil and gas exploration business.
"That's really an accomplishment, considering the TPI in June indicates the industry still has not recovered to the level of economic health that created the last jobs milestone," Ingham said.