The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Jobs, Yes!

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 5, 2012

Reacting to energy discussion during the presidential debate, the National Journal argues both candidates overstated energy’s job-creating potential:

“… as economists have also said for months, energy production – whether through increased oil and gas drilling or boosting renewable energy or both – won’t come close to creating enough jobs to putting most of the nation’s 23 million unemployed people back to work.”

President Obama pointed to increases in domestic oil and natural gas production and gains in renewable energy employment, while Gov. Mitt Romney said North American energy independence could create 4 million jobs by 2020. The National Journal continues:

“It’s true that there’s a new boom in U.S. natural-gas production, which has created jobs in gas-rich regions of the United States, such as North Dakota and Ohio. According to a study by the energy analysis firm IHS-CERA, increased natural-gas production could create 1.6 million new jobs by 2035. That’s good news – but it won’t be enough to significantly move the needle on the unemployment rate in the next four years.”

Both arguments – that new energy jobs wouldn’t matter much with millions and millions of Americans unemployed and that they wouldn’t immediately impact unemployment – too easily dismiss the important lift that new energy-sector growth could give to a struggling economy, even right away.

In addition to the IHS-CERA analysis, energy consultant Wood Mackenzie said last year that oil and natural gas could generate 1.4 million new jobs by 2030, with the right development policies in place – and 1 million by 2018. Wood Mackenzie’s job-creation chart looks like this:

Meanwhile, a study for the National Association of Manufacturers projected an additional 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2025 because of America’s shale gas revolution. Jobs right now? Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would create an estimated 20,000 jobs during the project’s construction phase.

The point is that these are not insignificant contributions. In this economy, with 23 million people looking for work, every job is important. The energy sector can help lead a jobs recovery.

Our industry bought 14 percent of all capital equipment and structures in the U.S. over the past few years and has invested billions in U.S. leases and acreage. Our industry contributed $476 billion to the economy in 2010 and claimed five of the top 11 spots on the Progressive Policy Institute’s “Investment Heroes” list of the top 25 nonfinancial U.S.-based companies, ranked by their 2011 capital spending inside this country. This investment supports jobs across the country – 9.2 million in all. The salaries for these jobs are higher than the average salary in many states, particularly in North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

For America’s oil and natural gas companies, job creation and investment aren’t abstractions. They’re real, and they’re helping our economy every day. As studies have shown, our industry can do more if we choose policies to fully develop America’s energy wealth.


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.