(Bloomberg) The hired hands of America’s oil patch have now lost all the job gains they made during a brief recovery last year, according to a trade group. The companies that frack wells and make the equipment necessary to produce oil cut an estimated 12,321 jobs over a three-month stretch ending in February, according to an analysis of labor market data by the industry-funded Energy Workforce & Technology Council.That wiped out the 11,282 jobs added between September and November, when shale companies were beginning to climb back from history’s worst crude crash earlier in the year. Nearly all of the large publicly traded shale explorers are continuing to hold the line and not boost output this year, in an effort to appease investors demanding greater returns. The U.S. rig count is still down by about half compared to the start of last year, according to Baker Hughes Co. The job estimates are preliminary and subject to revisions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in future months.
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