The Gulf Oil Spill and Job Loss: By The Numbers

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Experts have already deemed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as the worse environmental disaster in U.S. history — but when all is said and done, the catastrophe might also be considered one of our nation’s worst in terms of its effect on employment.

Since the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, 2010, dozens of professions have been affected. From fishermen, to lifeguards, to those in the offshore drilling industry — many in the Gulf region will find themselves unemployed due to the spill.

Following are recent estimates on the effect the oil spill will have on jobs:

  • According to a published letter written to BP by the Louisiana Governor’s Administration, more than 12,000 jobs could be lost in Louisiana alone.
  • Houston, known for its concentration of large oil and offshore drilling companies like Halliburton and Cobalt International Energy, also has a reason to fear a hike in unemployment numbers; President Obama’s recently imposed restrictions on offshore drilling will suspend operations on 33 deepwater rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • According to the Louisiana Mid-continent Oil and Gas Association, 180 to 280 employees work on each drilling platform per day. With 33 deepwater rigs projected to be idle for the next six months, that means thousands of workers may find themselves out of a job.
  • The drilling ban will also affect exploratory drilling efforts off the coasts of both Alaska and Virginia.
  • According to John Hofmeister, ex-CEO of Shell, the deepwater moratorium could cost up to 50,000 people in the oil industry their jobs in the next six months alone. The Wall Street Journal estimates the number could reach 75,000.
  • Federal officials have closed off more than 30 percent of the Gulf of Mexico to fishermen, according to Discovery News. Although much of the Gulf is still uncontaminated by the oil spill, some cautious restaurants have begun rejecting all Gulf-Coast seafood shipments as a safeguard — which could potentially affect the ability of fishermen to sell their harvest.
  • As Florida approaches its tourism season, there is fear that the oil spill will keep vacationers away from the state’s beaches. USA Today reports that one Hilton Hotel in the Florida Keys received 50 percent fewer reservations last month than in did in May 2009. A drop in vacationers could mean job losses in popular vacation-destinations across the Gulf Coast area.

The only bright spot in the effect the disaster is having on jobs appears to be in the cleanup efforts, with a variety of sources reporting an increase in cleanup-related hiring.

  • According to the Associated Press, thousands of candidates showed up for recruiting sessions for cleanup workers in Florida, Louisiana and Texas — though only a few hundred positions were available in each state.
  • A keyword search of “oil spill” on brings up 60 job postings, most of which have multiple positions available.

Regardless of any uptick in cleanup-related jobs, though, here’s hoping the spill gets resolved sooner rather than later.

  1. I Gary Grantham is lead of.looking for job cleaning up the Guilf Oil spill from New Jersey,working in the construction field most of my life heard you know some co in Florada that I can call thats hirring in oil spill clean up my cell no (215)631-4603

  2. First off, BP needs to employ all the unemployed persons of Louisianan, then Alabama and Florida, and if they still need more people, then the unemployed in the rest of the US.

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