There is a downside to cheap oil prices—just ask the U.S. workers associated with the country's oil boom.
Yes, lower energy prices help many consumers by slashing spending at the gas pump and for heating homes—money these consumers presumably will spend on other goods.
But as oil prices fall, it becomes harder for energy companies to maintain profitable margins. In response, the exploration companies are already cutting back on their investments, which often means layoffs, as fewer hands are needed to work a declining number of rigs.
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That means within the oil patch, low energy prices may be more of a curse than a blessing for retailers who depend on energy industry workers to buy their products.
As the recent global glut of crude oil shows little signs of abating—inventories rose again to a record high—oil prices continue to tumble. West Texas Intermediate crude prices are down about 60 percent since June.
Stifel said the U.S. oil rig count is 24 percent below its October 2014 level. BHP Billiton said it plans to cut its rig operations by 40 percent this year. BP announced plans to cut capital expenditures by 13 percent in 2015. Numerous energy producers have announced layoffs, from the oil and gas division of General Electric to oil field services company Schlumberger.
Nomura and Wells Fargo analysts have detailed which retailers in their coverage areas may be most impacted if the U.S. oil production boom slows. The Nomura analysis includes the following nine states:Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Utah and Arkansas. The Wells Fargo analysis looks at the impact in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming.