Uintah Basin’s Oil Woes Continue To Be Felt In Unemployment Numbers

Apr 15, 2015

While the employment numbers for most of the state remain positive, the latest data from the Department of Workforce Services shows that lower oil prices are still having an economic impact on the Uintah Basin.

The Department’s Regional Economist Tyson Smith talked about unemployment claims in the region.

“In Uintah County claims are up 290 percent from the year previous and in Duchesne County they’re up about 260 percent from the year previous,” Smith said. “When we look at Uintah County last year we averaged about 20 claims per week at the beginning of 2014, in 2015 we averaged between 60-80 claims per week.”

Smith said most of the claims are related to the mining industry and the recently lower cost of oil. Once crude oil prices drop to a low enough level, it is no longer profitable for companies to continue drilling—or keep their workforce on.

“It hasn’t been a big surprise to us, we kind of saw this storm coming once the price of crude oil began to fall,” Smith said.

Current projections show the total number of jobs in the area has fallen somewhere between 1 to 3 percent. Smith said there are signs the region is in a rebound—though it may not be a fast one.

“The hope is that at least the large amounts of layoff have subsided and that we will see some stability returning,” Smith said. “Our expectation is that crude oil prices won’t return to the $90 to $100 a barrel range any time soon based on what we’ve heard and read, and the research we’ve done internally. And so it’s hard to say how quickly companies will start hiring people back.”

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