Since July, employment has held at about 172,000 positions in the sector, which includes higher-paying geoscientists and petroleum engineers as well as lower-skilled roustabouts and roughnecks who work the rigs in oil fields.
The takeaway is that job losses may finally be bottoming out after a brutal stretch of layoffs brought on by an oil price downturn that's now about 2 years old. The job cuts began not long after theOrganization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided in November 2014 against asking member countries to cut output in order to prop up prices.
That forced producers of high-cost oil, such as U.S. shale drillers, to cut output and lay off workers.
It's important to note that more comprehensive data from the Census Bureau have not yet confirmed the bottom that's being shown in the Labor Department numbers. The Census data are based on census reports from all U.S. business establishments, so they capture a more complete picture than Labor's figures, which are based on a survey of a smaller number of companies. That's why there's a gap between Census and Labor data.