WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The oil and natural gas industry in the United States accounted for a large share of the gains in private sector employment, the Labor Department said.
The Labor Department said Thursday the four-week average initial jobless claims dropped to 335,500, the lowest level since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007.
The department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said the oil and natural gas sector accounted for a significant share of overall job gains. It said private sector employment increased by 1 percent from 2007 to 2012. Jobs in the oil and natural gas sector increased 40 percent during the same period.
The Energy Department said parts of the energy sector were severely affected by the economic recession. Consumer and industrial demand for energy products declines during bad economic times.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said gains in real gross domestic product in North Dakota coincided with ongoing development of the regional Bakken oil area, one of the richest reserves in the country.
The EIA said North Dakota's GDP in 2001 ranked 38th out of the 50 states. By 2012, the GDP per capita of $55,250 was 29 percent greater than the national average.
The EIA said this week crude oil production in July increased to 7.5 million barrels per day, the highest level in more than 20 years.