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Report: Shale Drilling Jobs Not All They're Cracked Up to Be

PHOTO: A new report finds shale drilling produces fewer jobs in Pennsylvania than some in the industry have claimed. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: A new report finds shale drilling produces fewer jobs in Pennsylvania than some in the industry have claimed. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
November 27, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Companies drilling for shale in Pennsylvania tout their economic benefit by talking about the jobs they create, but a new study finds the industry hasn't created as many new jobs as some supporters claim.

The report is from the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, made up of organizations in six states that track the impact of shale drilling. Stephen Herzenberg, who heads the Keystone Research Center, said it reveals that shale drilling accounts for far fewer jobs than the industry claims.

"Counting shale jobs accurately is important. It can help state/local government plan for the impact, but it does remove the hype," he said. "Yes, there's a benefit in terms of jobs, but it's much more modest than some of the claims."

Frank Mauro, who heads up the Fiscal Policy Institute, another collaborative member, said the industry has been creative in its definition of job gains.

"The shale industry in Pennsylvania began publicizing a concept called 'new hires,' rather than new jobs," he said, "and what new hires is, is really a turnover measure. It counts every time a job is filled, even if the same job is filled five times."

Moving forward, Herzenberg said, the collaborative hopes to offer a perspective on shale drilling that isn't swayed by an industry looking to protect favorable tax situations and ward off further regulation.

"We definitely hope that we can make public officials more responsive, both to the facts and to the public interest," he said. "There are pluses and minuses with drilling, and we need to have an honest assessment of what those are."

The collaborative looked at shale-drilling job creation in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. The report showed, for instance, that from 2005 to 2012, fewer than four new shale-related jobs were created each time a new well was drilled, a number far below the 31 jobs cited in some industry figures. It also concluded that some new shale-related jobs can be short-lived, as drilling relocates to more prosperous parts of the nation.

The full report is online at multistateshale.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA