Jobs drying up in Texas oil industry as gas prices drop

HOUSTON --With the price of gas dropping below two dollars a gallon in Houston, Peyton Gregory is saving money at the pump -- but low oil prices also cost her her job.

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Peyton Gregory CBS News

She was laid off from the hiring department of an oil services firm ten months ago.

"It takes two months of part-time work to equal two weeks of pay for what I was receiving at my full-time job."

It's estimated Texas has lost 60,000 to 70,000 oil and gas related jobs in the last 15 months, sending the state's unemployment rate slightly higher at a time when the national rate is declining.

Parts of the state are still pumping oil. But Tobias Read, CEO of Swift Worldwide Resources -- which supplies labor to the oil industry -- said with falling profits, plans for new drilling are drying up.

Read believes there will probably be more job losses. "We think that there will be unfortunately, because the oxygen which drives the sector is new capital expenditures, and there has been very little."

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CBS News

U.S. oil output could drop by 1.1 million barrels a day by next fall if the price of crude doesn't recover.

"We might even see the price go substantially lower before there is an adjustment," said Read.

Read also said the market may not recover until 2017, and it could take 18 months from then to see any significant job creation.

The good news is cheaper gas is giving the overall economy a boost, saving the average driver about $500 this year.