Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Pennsylvania Marcellus Employment Doubles Since 2008

Employment in the core industries that drive Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania more than doubled to 20,837 people between 2008 and 2011, while employment in ancillary industries dropped by around 1% to 193,813, according the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis (CWIA) at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

All industries related to Marcellus Shale development employed 214,000 in the first quarter of 2011.

The CWIA calculated its figures using the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages generated from tax statements collected by the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation system, a system that covers 95% of workers in the state.

While the CWIA previously released employment figures in April, the two reports cannot be easily compared because of additional ancillary industries and government jobs not in the previous edition (see Shale Daily, June 23; June 3).

Because the Marcellus is not a single industry, the CWIA broke its measurements into six "core" industries such as extraction and oilfield services, and 30 "ancillary" industries such as trucking, manufacturing and consulting.

Among the core industries, oilfield services -- or "support activities for oil and gas operations" -- accounted for more than half of the employment growth over the past three years, jumping from 2,177 in early 2008 to 7,196 in early 2011, followed by 2,854 additional drilling jobs and 1,330 additional "crude petroleum and natural gas extraction" jobs.

The number of businesses involved in Marcellus development is also growing. The 36 industries added more than 650 "establishments" between 2008 and 2011, including 355 in the six core industries and 207 in the oilfield services sector.

While it is not surprising that employment is growing in drilling hotspots -- northeast, central and southwest Pennsylvania -- the size of that growth is surprising. Core industry employment jumped 2,076% in the dry gas corridor along the New York border where companies drilled 762 wells in 2010, 1,289% in the central region where companies drilled 162 wells in 2010 and 181% in the wet gas corridor around Pittsburgh where operators drilled 285 wells last year.

Viewed from a different perspective, that drilling correlates to lower unemployment.

Between August 2009 and August 2011 the six regions of the state responsible for more than 98% of all Marcellus drilling saw unemployment fall 0.4 percentage points, while Pennsylvania unemployment fell by 0.2 percentage points.

And those jobs are high-paying, too. The average Marcellus industry wages over the past year was $76,036 in the six core industries and $62,581 in the 30 ancillary industries, compared to $46,222 for all industries in Pennsylvania.

"This new data further reinforces the undeniable fact that responsible American natural gas production is an unmatched private-sector job creation machine," said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. "We take seriously our important work in the Commonwealth, and realize we have an historic opportunity and responsibility to build on this progress in a way that ensures our environment is protected, our economy is strong, and our nation is more secure."

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