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Texas drilling, oil field hiring accelerates in first quarter

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Texas drillers pumped more crude and service companies expanded payrolls faster in the first quarter, the Dallas Fed said Wednesday, the latest sign the industry is emerging from a two-year downturn.

The acceleration in drilling and oil field hiring marks a vast improvement for the Texas oil industry. This time last year, U.S. oil prices dove to the lowest point in more than a dozen years, and the collapse cost the state more than 100,000 oil and gas jobs.

Now, with crude prices hovering near $50 a barrel, oil field services companies have hired new workers and raised prices for drilling tools as producers order more equipment and spend more money, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

“They’re definitely gaining traction,” said Michael Plante, a senior economist at the Dallas Fed, which in March surveyed more than 150 energy executives in its districts of Texas, northern Louisiana and southern New Mexico. “It’s more than just short-term optimism.”

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By Collin Eaton

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