The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy: Leading on Jobs

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 1, 2012

If you’re looking for a job, chances are pretty good we’ve got one –and a good one at that. In an economy that’s still trying to find its way, energy is leading the way in job creation. USA Today reports:

"Of all the places that America's new jobs are, the emerging energy business, directly or indirectly, might be responsible for more of them than almost anything else. Since 2002, the exploration of natural gas deposits embedded in shale, followed by oil drilling that began in earnest late in the decade, has created more than 1 million jobs, says Moody's Analytics economist Chris Lafakis. That's out of 2.7 million the whole country created. 'It's really huge,' Lafakis says. 'And the jobs pay very well.'''

Very well indeed. Lafakis says direct oil and natural gas jobs pay an average of just under $150,000 a year – about three times the national average. Most plentiful are engineering jobs – six of the top eight most-filled jobs in the industry.

But it’s not just the industry itself. The growth of oil and natural gas development from shale is rippling into other states, impacting energy-associated businesses and services. USA Today:

"While oil and gas deposits are concentrated in a handful of places, more than 30 states saw oil and gas support employment, including suppliers and service companies that work with energy companies, rise at least 50% in the past decade, Moody's says. ...

Only about a quarter of employment growth driven by the shale boom has happened at energy companies, Moody's found. Another 308,000 have been 'indirectly' created by the boom – those include the ones at transportation companies or equipment firms, Lafakis said. More than half a million are "induced" jobs – created to serve the needs of the other half-million people, once oil and gas brings more wealth to their towns. The boom is causing everyone from law firms to banks to add white-collar staffers, as well -- and to open everything from hotels to the Red Dog Ice House, a big- screen sports bar coming to Carrizo Springs, Texas."

New oil and gas rigs have to be built, and product has to be moved to market via pipeline, truck or rail.

"Rising U.S. energy production also is creating manufacturing jobs for everything from steel for piping to rail cars. Among the biggest: a $650 million, 350-job plant by French tubing manufacturer Vallourec to make products for shale drilling in Youngstown, Ohio, and a planned natural gas cracking plant outside Pittsburgh that could add 10,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent positions at Shell, if it goes forward. 'Every week, I see a billion-dollar investment,' Navigant Consulting energy economist Julie Carey says."

Some examples:

  • Pennsylvania: 18,000 new energy-related jobs added 2008-2011, plus 5,500 more jobs in freight trucking and road building.
  • Texas: Pioneer Natural Resources has hired 400 over the past two years for work in the Eagle Ford Shale region. The company also has retained 1,000 outside contractors to build rigs, drive trucks and handle other jobs.
  • North Dakota/Texas: ConocoPhillips has added 500 the past three years to work in shale operations.
  • Ohio: According to a new study, shale will add $10 billion to the state’s economy by 2014, creating 65,000 jobs, reports.

Energy/economics blogger Mark J. Perry writes about Texas, but his point has broader application:

"Along with the gusher of new oil coming out of Texas oil fields, especially in the Eagle Ford Shale area, is coming a gusher of new shovel-ready jobs, both direct and indirect, and a gusher of new oil prosperity to the state of Texas. As I’ve mentioned before, America’s job-creating shale energy revolution is perhaps the brightest spot in an otherwise weak economy and sluggish labor market."

America’s oil and natural gas industry is growing and hiring. Our companies are betting on America with billions in investments, right here in the U.S. With increased oil and gas drilling that would come with new access to onshore and offshore areas that have been kept off limits by the federal government, they can do more.

America is energy-rich, but policy changes are needed to increase drilling for American oil and gas. With the right policies we can be energy self-sufficient, generating all the liquid fuels we need through domestic drilling, biofuels and from Canada by 2024. And along with the energy, 1.4 million jobs and $800 billion in additional revenue to government by 2030.


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.