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U.S. oil and gas companies are expecting to hire fewer new employees and increase layoffs in the first half of 2015 due to uncertainty over oil prices, according to Rigzone’s semi-annual hiring survey.

Four out of ten hiring managers said they anticipate hiring to slow down in the first half of the year while nearly a quarter expect hiring to pick up.

Five percent of the survey respondents said they have no plans to hire within the next six months.

Nearly half of hiring managers said budgeted positions have been cut due to market volatility, an 18 percent increase over the last six months.

Hiring managers also expect a spike in layoffs with 36 percent saying headcount reductions are likely at their company compared to 11 percent in July.

“The survey results paint a picture of ambiguity for oil and gas professionals in the year ahead, a steep change from survey results just six months prior,” Rigzone said.

Job candidates are responding to the hiring slowdown by becoming less choosy and less likely to negotiate for higher pay, Rigzone said.

Only 22 percent of job candidates rejected an offer, a five point drop from the last survey.

Hiring managers said 37 percent of candidates tried to negotiate for a higher salary, a sharp drop from 61 percent reported in July.

About 54 percent of companies with open positions have seen an uptick in applications, up from 47 percent in July, although nearly half of employers said they have been unable to fill some positions due to compensation requirements.

“The changing oil and gas market can be positive for companies who are indeed hiring and looking for premium candidates that may have otherwise been unavailable earlier in the year,” Rigzone president Bob Melk said.