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Rigzone’s semi-annual hiring survey found that half of hiring managers in the energy sector are planning to hire more oil and gas professionals within the next six months.

The improving economic outlook was the major reason cited for the strong demand for labor.

The managers surveyed primarily recruit for U.S. energy companies.

The percentage of managers expecting to hire was only slightly down from 53 percent during the first half of the year.

While managers are looking to recruit, many of them reported having a hard time finding qualified applicants to fill open positions.

Nearly 40 percent of hiring managers said that the time to fill a position has lengthened, up from 32 percent at the beginning of 2014. Managers cited the lack of qualified applicants as the reason, Rigzone reported.

Only 11 percent of hiring managers said that they expect to layoff workers in the next six months.