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When it comes to paychecks, Big Oil now looks like the best bet for U.S. workers, according to a report in Bloomberg

Spurred partly by the shale boom, the median pay for energy workers last year was $123,000. That topped all sectors, including utilities, tech and health care. What’s fueling this paycheck potency? First, a reliance on geologists, petroleum engineers and other highly skilled, well compensated professionals. While energy chief executives made 120 times more, the gap with their employees was still the second-smallest among all industries.

Add to that the efforts needed to retain expertise — and lure young talent — after the recent oil price rout led to hundreds of thousands of job losses. The industry’s boom demanded that they retain critical employees “at almost any cost.” It was a classic case of supply and demand. The shortage in supply of critical workers pushed up what it cost to get them.

The next highest pay category is Utilities at $122,600, followed by health care, $106,000; technology $96,500; communications, $94.900; financials, $87,100; materials, $69,500; industrials, $61,900; consumer staples, $41,800; consumer discretionary, $34,700

Within energy, a pecking order was clear: Producers and refiners staffed with highly trained, highly credentialed scientists, engineers and other professions had the most generous median pay. Offshore oil explorer Kosmos Energy Ltd. led the pack at more than $230,000. Refiner Valero Energy Corp., was second highest and Cheniere Energy Inc., the liquefied natural gas exporter, was third.