The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy: It’s About Jobs

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 6, 2012

The latest jobs report, showing the creation of just 80,000 new jobs in June, is refocusing the political debate on the economy. How meager is 80,000 jobs? Well, according to UPI that’s “not even enough to keep up with growth in the working-age population,” which last month grew by 191,000. Meanwhile, a Rasmussen survey reports that only 31 percent of likely voters say the president is doing a good or excellent job handling economic issues.

Short analysis: It’s about jobs. Good news: It doesn’t have to be hard.

Energy-related job booms in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states are showing what’s possible – in terms of jobs, tax-revenue generation and associated economic growth – when energy development leads the way. The Institute for Energy Research’s Robert Bradley Jr., in an article for Oilprice.com:

"In North Dakota, where drillers are producing crude oil from the Bakken Shale, workers are finding jobs offering wages that are significantly higher than the national average. Truck drivers are being paid $80,000 a year to start. Some workers on oil rigs are being paid six figures. And yet many jobs are going begging. According to the mayor of Williston, 'A lot of jobs get filled every day, but it’s like for every job you fill, another job and a half opens up.' In April, North Dakota had a jobless rate of 3.0 percent, the lowest in the country."

Additional detail:

  • In Pennsylvania, Bradley writes, state analysis projects jobs for drill operators will grow nearly 85 percent this year (compared to sub-3 percent growth otherwise in the state).
  • Expansion is occurring in Texas’ Eagle Ford shale play, Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale, Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale and other energy-rich rock formations, “increasing domestic energy supplies, making energy more affordable, and spawning subsidiary investments in the private sector creating additional jobs.”
  • A steel plant in Ohio is adding 200 jobs to produce more drill pipe.
  • A planned ethane plant in Texas is expected to create 400 jobs.

Bradley:

"These jobs are being created by companies, not the federal government. And they are based on 'made in the USA' technologies that have the potential to greatly increase nation’s energy security and alter the world’s balance of power. As U.S. oil and natural gas supplies increase, some experts believe American energy independence is on the horizon."

On his blog, John R. Hanger connects energy production and employment:

"Jobs are a major product of that commerce and energy production. The 5 biggest energy producing states all have unemployment rates below the national average, but the same cannot be said about the 5 states producing the least energy." 

Meanwhile, Canada, which a few years ago staked its economic revitalization on energy, is looking for U.S. workers to fill anticipated job slots in Alberta. The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation expects a shortage of 114,000 workers in the coming months and has set up the aptly named opportunityawaits.com website to promote job openings. One U.S. veterans group is reaching out to former military personnel and active-duty soldiers who soon will transition to civilian life, encouraging them to consider oil sands and Keystone XL pipeline jobs in Canada. Fox News has a story, here. Again, the point is to recognize the dynamic economic power of the energy stimulus.

No question, U.S. jobs figures for June suggest a still-struggling economy. The administration says it’s not to blame, that there are limits to what a president can do to change the national economic trajectory. Indeed, a president has limited options – so perhaps the first move is to not stand in the way of growth.

Energy is a proven job creator, a shining sector in the weak economy. But the administration is making energy expansion harder, not easier. It is delaying construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and it is restricting offshore energy development. Its permitting policies in the Gulf of Mexico have suppressed production there, costing jobs and economic opportunity throughout the region. It is sending confusing messages on hydraulic fracturing, the shale technology that is unlocking America’s ample energy potential.

America’s oil and natural gas companies are creating good jobs and can create even more. With the right policies this industry can add 1 million new jobs before the end of the decade. Here’s a blueprint for an American-made energy policy.  It’s energy, it’s jobs and it’s within our reach.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.