The growth of the natural gas industry in the heart of Pennsylvania’s eastern Marcellus Shale helped the area avoid the worst of the 2008 recession, and the positive effects have only just begun, according to a study issued by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development (IPPED).

A comparison of the impact of the Marcellus on Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, the Barnett Shale in Texas and the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas led the IPPED to conclude “that there is definite potential for growth in wealth, employment and housing” within Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, which includes all or parts of Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

When the IPPED released a study of the area in 2008, only 93 drilling permits had been issued and 18 wells drilled in Bradford, Lycoming, Susquehanna and Wayne counties; by September 2012 the industry had ballooned, with 4,823 permits issued and 4,026 wells drilled Bradford, Lycoming, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.

IPPED’s first study was released as the 2008 recession deepened. But newer data incorporated into the more recent study “showed how a region suffering from population loss and job loss began to display economic growth and strength at [a] time when other parts of the country were in a severe recession,” IPPED said.

Core drilling counties fared better than noncore drilling counties, but the economic benefits of the Marcellus spill over throughout the region, according to the report.

“Aside from assets like schools and airports, the surrounding counties can benefit by focusing economic development on the continued development of local businesses needed by the natural gas industry as a whole, and working to bring in new businesses that use natural gas in their processes,” IPPED said.

A poll conducted in Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district about midway between the two IPPED studies found public opinion “largely supportive” of Marcellus Shale development, with 50% of respondents indicating it would be beneficial to their community (see Shale Daily, Oct. 8, 2010).