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Marcellus Employment Growing in Pennsylvania

The Marcellus Shale industry is driving job growth in Pennsylvania, according to new government figures.

In 2010 the industries involved in shale development hired 48,000 people, according to the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis (CWIA) at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, those industries hired another 9,000 people.

And as of last summer, the most recent figures available, Marcellus employment totaled 141,000 people, or 2% of the total state employment.

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

Because the Marcellus is not one unified industry, the CWIA based its calculations on six North American Industry Classification System industries considered "core" to shale development -- such as "Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas Extraction" -- and 21 considered "ancillary" to shale development -- such as "Specialized Freight Trucking, Local" and "Water & Sewer Line & Related Structures Construction."

That method is accurate, but not necessarily precise, as the CWIA admitted. "While the vast majority of Marcellus Shale employment can be found in these industries, not all establishments in these industries are necessarily involved in Marcellus Shale," the report said.

The report is not the first to look at the economic growth associated with Marcellus development, but now that significant exploration is entering its fourth year in Pennsylvania, the figures show trends that until recently have been hard to find (see Shale Daily, March 3; Jan. 26).

Between the first quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2010, those core industries added 8,685 jobs, a 94% increase, while the ancillary industries added 1,938 jobs, a 2% increase. Meanwhile, total employment in Pennsylvania fell by more than 112,000, a 2% drop.

Digging deeper into the numbers offers a more detailed view of the direction of Marcellus development over the past three years.

For instance, construction jobs for building pipelines and compressor stations more than doubled as companies worked to fill the gap in midstream infrastructure in Pennsylvania, but jobs to operate those facilities actually fell slightly. And while local trucking operations added 1,565 jobs to support the constant movement of good to and from drilling sites, long-distance trucking operations dropped 126 jobs.

The various water and sewer fields, crucial for shale development, collectively added 801 jobs (see Shale Daily, May 20; May 19). Oilfield services companies reported the biggest gain, adding 3,307 jobs, while steel pipe manufacturing saw the biggest drop, losing 1,199 jobs. Although not exact, the job growth roughly tracks well counts. The report found significant employment gains in six regions with substantial drilling activity.

In the northern tier, the prolific dry-gas counties along the New York border, companies drilled 762 wells in 2010 and added 1,109 jobs to core industries during the study period, a 1,275% bump. Activity in northeastern Pennsylvania during 2010 was led by Bradford County, where 830 permits were issued and 386 wells were drilled.

Central Pennsylvania, a region with only 162 wells in 2010, saw employment jump 661%. This region was led by Centre County, which saw 97 permits issued and 39 wells drilled last year.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, a growing wet-gas corridor, companies drilled 220 wells and added 540 jobs, an 81% increase. In Westmoreland and Fayette counties alone, two very active counties in that region, companies drilled 65 wells and added 525 jobs, a 122% increase.

Southwestern Pennsylvania was led by Washington County in 2010, where 249 permits were issued and 139 wells were drilled.

The Marcellus industry is not only expanding but offering significantly higher wages than many other fields. Of the 27 industries, all but three offered higher average wages than the statewide average. The average wage for workers in the core industries is $69,995 and workers in ancillary industry are averaging slightly less, around $63,967. Statewide, the average wage for all workers is $45,491.

And the growth is not only workers, but workplaces, too. The CWIA report noted that during the study period Pennsylvania also added 482 Marcellus-related "establishments," an all-purpose term for various factories, store and offices involved in producing and selling goods.

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