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Numbers Game: Marcellus Shale Industry Created Less Than 10,000 Jobs in PA

June 22, 2011

One of the most compelling pro-gas drilling arguments was negated yesterday by the Keystone Research Center’s report on the gas industry lackluster job generation in Pennsylvania.  A press release issued by the Center, a research and policy development institute, noted that the “48,000 new jobs” statistic, which is often tossed around by friends of the gas industry and repeated in news reports, does not accurately reveal the whole truth of the matter.  Instead, they posit that “between late 2007 and 2010, the Marcellus Shale boom created fewer than 10,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania.”

They go on to explain that the industry’s exaggerated claims are based on data related to “new hires.”  Not be confused with “new jobs,” data for “new hires” refers to all personnel changes, including filling already existing positions.  To help put this technicality into perspective, the press release uses a comparison between the Marcellus Shale industry and all Pennsylvania industries.  Saying the Marcellus Shale industry added 48,000 new jobs is like stating Pennsylvania added 2.8 million new jobs when, in reality, Pennsylvania created a much more modest 85,400 new jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011, when Pennsylvania did have 2.8 million new hires.

The Center points out the small, seemingly irrelevant, role the Marcellus Shale industry is playing in the larger economic landscape of the state:

Overall, Marcellus job growth is small — accounting for less than one in 10 of the 111,400 new jobs created since February 2010 (when employment bottomed out after the recession), the report finds.  Even if Marcellus Shale-related industries had created no jobs in 2010, the state still would have ranked third in overall job growth among the 50 states.

The report also takes into consideration the impact drilling will have on other industries.

Read a one-page summary of the report here: “Drilling Deeper into Job Claims: The Actual Contribution of Marcellus Shale to Pennsylvania Job Growth” (includes a link to the nine-page policy brief; may be saved and shared as a pdf document, as well).

Of course, we could not have expected the industry to remain quiet when such an obvious correction has been made to their PR arsenal.  Yesterday, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) released a statement emphasizing the “family-friendly” benefits of the industry’s growth while completely ignoring both the factual jobs data and the harm the industry is causing to actual families.

Read the MSC press release here: “MSC Statement on Keystone Research Center’s Politically-Timed Attack on Family-Sustaining Jobs”

The over-heated MSC rhetoric – which uses the word “responsible” so many times it draws attention to the industry’s irresponsibility – serves as a reminder that we’ve been here before.

In April 2010, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article with the headline, “Where are all the Marcellus Shale jobs?  Some say predictions weren’t based in reality.”  Excerpts:

So here we are in 2010 with statewide employment down almost 200,000 jobs from three years ago.  Where are all the Marcellus Shale jobs?

“There’s a lot of wishful thinking out there,” said Jannette Barth, president of J.M. Barth & Associates, a research and consulting firm in New York. “They’re not [accurate] – or at least, they’re biased. They leave a lot of things out.”

Or, rather, put a lot of things in – like job numbers – that seem rather fantastical upon casual examination.

A report issued last year by Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (and, notably, paid for by the Marcellus Shale Gas Committee) said the Marcellus Shale field helped create more than 29,000 jobs in Pennsylvania in 2008 and 48,000 jobs in 2009, and could create 107,000 jobs or more in 2010.

Those eye-popping numbers are the ones invariably tossed around when boosters discuss the potential for the industry.

But a thin, 15-page report issued in late March by Ms. Barth contends that the job numbers have little foundation in reality.

Her report – “Unanswered Questions About the Economic Impact of Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale” – notes that employment in the oil and gas extraction sectors has not risen appreciably since 2004 in Pennsylvania or New York. “Also, as a percentage of state employment, employment in the oil and gas extraction industry has not changed very much” in Pennsylvania, her study said.

Her report seems to jibe with numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show an increase of less than 3,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania’s “mining and logging” division – from 20,800 jobs in February 2007 to 23,300 jobs in February 2010.”

Deja vu?  Read the full story here.

9 Comments
  1. Thelma permalink
    June 22, 2011 6:14 pm

    48,000 new jobs?????Really,,,,, What about the loss of farms that are suppling food….What about poisoned water supplies……What about the mess the rivers and creeks are going to be in and they possibly will never be the same…..No fish.
    Sorry there are other means for energy.
    Use the wind and forget the gas, at least mean people wouldn’t be live a life of fear of illness and poison water.

  2. Thelma permalink
    June 22, 2011 11:37 pm

    OOPS it just goes to show how something can mean something else with a letter or word missing
    “at least mean people wouldn’t be live a life of fear of illness and poison water.” should have read at least it means people wouln’t be living a life of fear of illness or poison water.

  3. Topher Wright permalink*
    June 24, 2011 6:55 pm

    Isn’t PR fascinating? It has no basis in actual reality.

  4. Loretta J. Gary permalink
    June 24, 2011 8:15 pm

    topher- ah… and yet it still has the power to shape our perception of reality.

    thelma- i hear you loud and clear. and your outrage is palpable. thanks for reading and commenting! please continue to speak up here and in your own community!

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