U.S. energy companies, particularly small and midsize businesses, have been adding jobs faster than the overall economy since 2005, a pace that could quicken even more with expanded liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
"Our country has undergone nothing short of an energy revolution over the past decade, shifting from the position of energy dependence to one of energy abundance," said chief economist Raymond J. Keating, who authored the report. "We are now the top natural gas producer in the world and the largest combined oil and natural gas producer. Our increased energy production has brought about tremendous small business and job growth with indirect benefits spreading up and down the supply chain all across the country.
"Expanding LNG exports would be the icing on the cake by encouraging future investments and the creation of even more businesses and jobs in our thriving energy sector."
Overall, 19 states were profiled in terms of natural gas production, employment in key energy sectors and business growth in each of those sectors. The states then were categorized as growth, declining or mixed. All 12 growth states experienced an increase in jobs and in the number of small and midsize businesses within the key energy sectors: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
According to employer data examined for the report, total U.S. employment declined by 0.3% between 2005 to 2012, during which the Great Recession impacted the entire nation. However, over that entire period, oil and gas extraction jobs were up by 46%, with drilling jobs rising 61%. Over that period, there also was a 100% leap in jobs within the support sector, a 66% rise in pipeline/related structures construction, and a 67% increase in the oil and gas field machinery/equipment manufacturing sector.
"The key part of this story is the growth in small and midsize businesses," the report noted. "Over the seven years covered in the study, the total number of small and midsize employer firms declined, but the number of small businesses in key energy sectors saw substantial growth."
The employer data, which looked at firms with less than 20 employees and those firms with less than 500 workers, indicated:
Extraction businesses grew by 4% among the smaller firms and almost 5% for the larger ones;
Drilling business growth was up by almost 8% for the smallest firms and 11% for bigger companies;
Businesses supporting oil and gas operations saw the sector increase by 29% among the smallest firms and 31% for those with less than 500 employees;
Construction businesses related to pipeline and related structures climbed by 12% among firms with less than 20 workers, and about 13% for larger firms; and
Manufacturing businesses related to oil and gas field machinery and equipment grew by close to 9% among firms with less than 20 workers and almost 15% among the bigger companies.
"Our energy boom has brought tremendous business, job and economic growth to the country, especially among small and midsize businesses, which historically have always been the driving economic force in our nation," Keating said. "LNG exports would boost incentives for further natural gas production in this country and bring about additional benefits in terms of economic, employment, business and income growth."