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Oil prices drag down white-collar industry workers in Houston but lift blue-collar ones

Oil prices drag down white-collar industry workers in Houston but lift blue-collar ones

In the oil business, one man's bust is another man's boom.

As the price of crude tanked in recent months, oil companies have halted work at south Texas oil fields, laying off tens of thousands of workers. Home prices have taken a big hit, as have hotels, restaurants and all the other businesses that cater to corporate boardrooms and globe-trotting petroleum engineers.

But in this Gulf Coast refinery hub about 30 miles east of Houston, business is good. Really good.

"My company loves it when oil prices go down," said Eric Schuelzke, 31, a process technician at an ExxonMobil refinery, one of a roomful of workers in refinery caps and blue coveralls who were busy...

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