FILE - Texas oil rig

(The Center Square) – March saw the largest single month-over-month gain in a decade of Texas upstream oil and natural gas sector jobs, a report by the Texas Workforce Commission shows.

For the third consecutive month, the upstream sector of the Texas oil and natural gas industry has added jobs, the data reveals. The sector added 4,300 jobs in March – the largest single month-over-month gain since the summer of 2011. Five of the past six months have seen job gains in Texas’ upstream oil and natural gas sector.

The upstream sector is comprised of oil and natural gas extraction and support activities for mining. It excludes other industry sectors like refining, petrochemicals, fuels wholesaling, oilfield equipment manufacturing, pipelines, and gas utilities, which also support hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs.

The sector added 12,000 jobs since its low point in September 2020, bringing the total upstream employment in Texas to 169,700 jobs, among the highest paying jobs in Texas.

“As our state continues to recover economically from the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, continued gains in the upstream sector of the Texas oil and natural gas industry are another sign that life is getting back to normal for many Texans,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association said in a statement. “Oil and natural gas will continue to play an essential role in environmental progress and the energy and economic strength of Texas, providing power, products, high-paying jobs and billions in government revenues for decades to come. Positive trends in the oil and natural gas industry benefit every Texan, whether you live near the oil patch or not.”

Texas gained 99,000 total nonagricultural jobs in March, marking gains in 10 of the last 11 months, TWC reports. Private sector employment increased 106,600 in March as well.

Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas’ unemployment rate in January was 6.8%, February’s was 6.9%.

Since March 14, 2020, the TWC has paid $48 billion in total unemployment benefits to Texans who lost their jobs due to the state shutdown over one year ago, responding to more than 8 million unemployment claims filed, a state record.

Despite major losses suffered by the oil and gas industry last year, it paid $13.9 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties, roughly $38 million a day, in fiscal 2020.

Nearly all of the state’s oil and gas royalties, 99%, went toward the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent University Fund, which support Texas public education. Texas school districts received more than $2 billion in property taxes from mineral properties producing oil and natural gas, pipelines and gas utilities.

Counties received $688.4 million from these property taxes. The state’s Rainy Day Fund also received $1.657 billion from state and local taxes paid by the oil and gas industry.