Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The government of Norway, one of Europe's top oil and gas producers, reported that the size of its labor force in the waning months of 2016 declined.
Norway is one of the larger producers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, though its total production has declined in recent months. The government reported preliminary production for January at 2.02 million barrels of oil, natural gas liquids and condensate. Of that total, January production for oil was about 1.6 million barrels per day, which was about 4.3 percent lower than December.
A report last week from Norges Bank, the country's central bank, found lingering economic strains from energy market factors. Bank Gov. Oystein Olsen said a worst-case scenario never materialized for Norway, but last year's decline in crude oil prices had curbed economic activity.
On Wednesday, the government's statistics office reported the labor force shrank by 34,000 from September to December last year.
"The population aged 15-74 years increased in this period, and the employment rate decreased by 0.7 percentage points, to 66.8 percent in December," it reported.
For Norwegian oil and gas production, the central bank governor said the peak was passed more than a decade ago, though he noted the sector as a whole may have been underestimated. On the labor front, some recent gains were reported in the oil and gas sector, though increases were coming off historic lows. Construction and communication trades were among the brighter spots for employment.
Despite the decline in energy production for December, the government said full-year 2016 output was higher than the previous year, even as lower crude oil prices put negative pressure on the industry as a whole.