Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Night and Day.(Business)

Byline: Aaron Baca Journal Staff Writer

Oil field climbs from the dark slough of '99 with money and jobs

With a devastating price bust behind it now, the New Mexico oil and gas industry is most certainly in the boom part of a never-ending cycle.

"Black and white," says Bob Gallagher, president of the New Mexico Oil and Natural Gas Association. "That doesn't even come close to describing the difference."

But a simple number describes the difference: 10,479 people were working directly in the oil and gas industries in mid-2000 the latest available figures from the New Mexico Department of Labor.

Only a year earlier, the number had dwindled to 8,630. Companies were shutting their doors and idling their operations.

"That's a 21 percent increase," says Dan Hall, an analyst with the Labor Department.

"That's employment we attribute to the rural areas of the state. What we're seeing is the number of rig counts is going up and so are the jobs. You know there's more jobs. That's a remarkable increase."

And the number is expected to grow when the department compiles its data for the third and fourth quarters. …

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