It’s a long way from New York City to Shreveport, LA, in more ways than one, but that distance was bridged recently when a Gotham-based news website gave props to the capital of the Ark-La-Tex for its hospitality to recent college graduates. In other words, there are jobs down there, the Yankees heard. And that’s thanks mainly to the Haynesville Shale.
The Daily Beast, which was founded by former “New Yorker” Editor Tina Brown and later merged with “Newsweek,” picked Shreveport as one of its top 25 U.S. cities for recent graduates. Coming in at No. 20 on the list, Shreveport has an unemployment rate of 7.2% and average per-capita personal income of $38,358, according to the ranking.
“[W]e looked at the cities through the lens of the basics of quality of life: housing, employment, affordability, and relationships,” Daily Beast editors wrote. “The cities that land among the top 25 have relatively low unemployment, high average salary per capita, a low cost of living, a high portion of housing units devoted to rental properties, and a large population between ages 22 and 24.”
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle said the ranking “is a prime example of how exploration of the Haynesville Shale brings economic benefits to the area and the state that go beyond just the people working directly for the energy industry.”
Activity in Northwest Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale, noted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) last winter as the top-producing U.S. natural gas play, began in earnest in 2008 and 2009, at roughly the same time that the rest of the nation was feeling the impact of the depths of recessionary conditions, Angelle noted. With that activity has come new jobs in the oil and gas industry from expanded field and pipeline operations, and the opening and expansions of offices and support industry facilities, as well as new wealth for property owners and increased funding for local government.
Other energy-focused towns that made the Daily Beast ranking are Oklahoma City, No. 3; Houston, 5; Dallas, 8; and Tulsa, OK, 9.
“The value to the economy of the area and the state from the Haynesville Shale is not restricted to the oil and natural gas companies and the landowners,” Angelle said. “When an industry expands its operations in a major way, we see new people, new jobs and new companies coming in to support that, and with those come opportunities in other industries to feed more customers, sell more cars, trucks and homes, rent more property, and do more business in many sectors.”
As the U.S. unemployment rate shot up from averaging less than 6% prior to fall 2008 to averaging around 9.5% for more than two years, Shreveport-Bossier City’s rate averaged around 7%, and outperformed the national economy in that measure by a third or more over that time period, Angelle said. Prior to the upswing in Haynesville activity, Shreveport-Bossier’s unemployment rate performance had closely tracked the national average through most of the previous decade.
“Forbes” recently ranked the area as the seventh best for jobs among midsized metropolitan areas.
Economic studies (see Shale Daily, May 26) of Haynesville Shale activity have indicated that it shielded the Shreveport-Bossier economy from the worst of the recent recession, and economic developers have also credited the energy sector for bolstering Northwest Louisiana. The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce recently named “the Haynesville Shale industry” its 2010 Industry of the Year.
“When we observe analysts with a national outlook promoting Northwest Louisiana as an address for success, we can see that our responsible balance of development and management of natural resources has not only strengthened our economy, but the way other states view us,” Angelle said. “I am especially gratified to see Louisiana targeted as a promising destination for ambitious young people from around the nation looking for their best opportunities.”
While the play has been good for job creation in the area, it remains to be seen how the slowdown in drilling activity will affect the region’s economy. Over the past year, drilling for unconventional oil and gas in the Haynesville/Bossier has dropped 38% — from 194 active rigs to 121 for the week ending June 10, according to NGI’s Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count.
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