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    Slumping oil and gas prices undermined companies’ budgets, prompting the loss of about 4,000 exploration jobs in December, reports the Department of Labor. At the onset of this year, workers in drilling operations stood at 336,000, or 6,000 fewer than the three-year high in both August and September. December’s job cuts represent the steepest loss in drilling jobs since May 1999 – that year 5,000 drilling jobs were lost, due to the crash of late 1998 through early 1999. EnergyJobsNetwork.com President Matt Richards said, "You’re not going to see jobs come back until prices improve."

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