U.S. states feeling pain of low oil prices


NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The low price of crude oil is starting to eat away at the revenue stream for U.S. states that depend heavily on the energy sector, Fitch Ratings said.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, closed Tuesday at $46.66 per barrel, down about 45 percent from one year ago. That's forced energy companies to cut staff and spending on exploration and production in an effort to navigate the downturn.

Fitch Ratings said that, as crude oil prices struggle to break the psychological threshold of $50, revenue streams are drying up for states that depend heavily on oil.

"Stagnant commodity price trends are dampening energy states' economic growth and are eating into economically sensitive revenue sources such as sales and personal income taxes," Senior Director Marcy Block said in a statement.

An August report from the Dallas Federal Reserve said regional economic metrics indicated mostly positive momentum, "except in the energy sector." Fitch Ratings said earlier this year some Texas cities like Houston, which hosts the headquarters of several major energy companies, were pressured by the weak crude oil market.

Beyond Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the nation, Fitch said states with less diverse economies like Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer, will face the brunt of the pressure from low crude oil prices. (by Daniel Graeber, UPI)