The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Jobs Pivot

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 9, 2011

It's good the administration seems to be refocusing on job creation - what with the current economic malaise yielding another blah employment report, Standard & Poor's downgrading of the country's credit rating and the stock market diving through the 11,000 floor.

The president said Monday creating jobs "is not rocket science" and "we know what to do" - and he is right. The question is, will we do it? Even the usually supportive New York Times thinks that recent economic leadership has fizzled: "Anyone hungering for a robust vision to invigorate the economy and increase employment is still hungry."

So, yeah - amid the churn of disappointing economic news, the administration looks to pivot to jobs. First, though, it might look at the pivot of jobs - as thus defined:

"A person or thing that plays a central part in an activity or organization" - the pivot of the community life was the chapel."

In that light, job creation isn't just an item that has screamed its way back to the top of the nation's agenda. It's the hinge of the nation, its life force - transcending politics, talking points and election campaigns.

Unfortunately, while the president correctly says creating jobs isn't rocket science, his team has acted as though it is - proposing measures that bypass simple choices that could capitalize on a ready, willing and able driver of economic growth - an energy stimulus that will put people to work and help reduce the deficit, both of which will calm markets going forward.

Indeed, while significant parts the economy struggle, the energy sector is strong and poised to contribute on the order of the $476 billion it provided the economy in 2010:

  • $266 billion in spending on new energy projects, improvements to existing ventures and enhancements of refinery and other downstream operations.
  • $176 billion in wages and salaries paid to 2.1 million U.S. employees, plus benefits and payments to oil and natural gas leaseholders.
  • About $35 billion in dividends distributed to American shareholders.

In addition, the oil and natural gas industry contributes about $86 million a day to governments in taxes, royalties and other fees - about $31 billion a year.

The key to this economic dynamo is access to resources and policies that let the industry do what it does well: find and deliver energy to America while creating thousands of new jobs. Again, as the president says, it's not complicated.

Nope, just business common sense and the political will to follow through: 190,000 new jobs supported in the Gulf of Mexico if drilling returns to pre-2010 levels, 600,000 jobs created by 2035 from Canadian oil sands and related infrastructure, 530,000 jobs nationwide with the right policies on access.

Then there's natural gas, which is booming because of advancements and discoveries in the development of shale gas. A 2010 Natural Resource Economics analysis estimates 282,000 new jobs just in the Marcellus shale gas regions of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In fact, regional economies are expanding rapidly in Pennsylvania and Texas. "All of South Texas is real healthy right now," Jack Lewis, owner of a restaurant supply company in the Eagle Ford play told the San Antonio Express-News.

Job-creating, economy growing policies are within the administration's reach. Hot Air's Ed Morrissey comments:

"We need to get government out of the way of investors and businesses. And there is one area in particular where that should start: energy exploration and extraction. No other area of regulatory reform will have the immediate impact as we will find in this sector. ... We send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas every year to buy energy resources we could produce for ourselves. That transfer weakens the US in fiscal and security terms while bolstering some governments that are essentially hostile to the US. ... Keeping that money in the US would make us stronger, more secure, and bolster our wealth and prosperity rather than send it overseas."

The administration wants to pivot to jobs? That's great. Even better: Let the ready and willing energy sector expand its already large role in that pivot.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.