Sunday, June 12, 2011

Update: Shale Gas Jobs Geography

One of the debates about the Marcellus Shale gas play concerns job creation. The industry, of course, boasts about a boon to the Pennsylvania economy. Skeptics focus on the itinerant labor. Employment gains benefit residents of other states (e.g. Texas). Both sides make good points. Ironically, much of the pro-extraction camp ignores the juiciest data:

From Appalachia to Alaska, the growth is eye-popping. Thousands of new jobs have sprouted up, most well-paying and all boons to their regions. There’s no denying oil and gas extraction jobs are on the rise, and not just in Texas and Oklahoma.

North Dakota is drilling oil at a blistering pace. Pennsylvania and West Virginia, along with parts of New York and Ohio, are seeing a natural gas boom with their Marcellus Shale reserves. And Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, and other Western states are adding extraction jobs in droves.

The job growth in oil and gas extraction is national, not just in the Marcellus. The trend appears to be of the "rising tide" variety. I have no doubt that shale gas has positively impacted the PA economy in a big way. But beware of predictions looking into the future. Those rosy numbers shouldn't be part of the policy discussion.

Within the industry there are some surprising disparities between states. The growth of the itinerant labor force isn't where you would expect it to be. From the same article quoted above:

Earlier we mentioned approaching the noncovered oil and gas jobs data with caution. But what if we took out the 1099 workers and looked strictly at those covered by unemployment insurance and tracked by the BLS and state LMI offices?

We did this with EMSI’s “covered” dataset, which is roughly equivalent to state LMI. It shows a vastly different state-by-state picture for mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector. Texas ranks No. 1 in 2008-11 job growth in EMSI’s complete dataset … and last among all states — with a loss of more than 8,000 jobs — when we take out 1099 workers.

Pennsylanvia and North Dakota still were big gainers in the covered dataset. Yet they were two of only seven states that added workers in this sector, and the only two that added any jobs of consequence. This points to just how many contract jobs are flooding into the sector, particularly in states like Texas and Oklahoma.

"1099 workers" are temporary. Nationally, that's the jobs boom. Pennsylvania and North Dakota buck the trend. To be sure, both states are gaining more temp workers (1099) than covered workers. Opponents to drilling have a legitimate gripe. However, over 40% of the 15,000+ new positions created [in PA] from 2008-2011 were of the "covered" variety.

I read this as industry setting up shop in Southwestern Pennsylvania for the long haul. The corporate infrastructure is being developed. It is already established in Texas and Oklahoma, the two states with the largest rise in 1099 workers. In fact, covered workers in those two states are likely heading to PA and North Dakota. I expect that relocation to start showing up in the migration numbers soon (if it hasn't already).

1 comment:

Paul Wittibschlager said...

Is SW PA countering the oncoming (?) job growth with an adequate dose of conservation and environmental protection?

Jobs are everywhere (across the US.) Clean air and water getting a little harder to find these days.

Pittsburgh added about 20k jobs in the last decade, Dallas-Ft.Worth about 500k. How do you compete?

Pittsburgh does not have the weather and does not have the seaboard location. Its in a stagnant region.

You can only compete with modest job growth balanced with a very high quality of life. Clean your air and water. Add a lot of park land.