The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Study: Upstream Job Growth Could Benefit African Americans, Latinos

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 4, 2012

Two pieces of good employment news in a new analysis of job opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry’s upstream (pre-refinery) sector:

  • With the implementation of pro-energy development policies, including opening new resource areas for drilling, the upstream part of the industry could create more than 500,000 new jobs by 2020 and more than 800,000 by 2030, according to IHS Global Insight.
  • More oil and natural gas jobs offer a great employment opportunity for African American and Latino workers. IHS projects that 166,000 or 31 percent of the new oil and gas upstream jobs created by 2020 could be held by African Americans and Latinos. Of new upstream jobs created by 2030, more than 285,000 (35 percent) could be held by African Americans and Latinos.

American Association of Blacks in Energy President and CEO Arnetta McRae:

"This study highlights the great opportunities that exist in America’s oil and natural gas industry for African Americans and Latinos. All Americans should know that this industry presents job security and opportunity for advancement unmatched by most others.”

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute President and CEO Esther Aguilera:

“Partnerships between the oil and natural gas industry and educational institutions could yield astounding results. These findings suggest a great employment future for Americans, and especially for Hispanics and African Americans, for decades to come.”

IHS developed its analysis from information on the occupational mix of jobs in the set of upstream activities previously studied by the Wood Mackenzie firm, examining shares of African American and Latino workers in those occupations. It found:

  • More than half of the job growth, 417,000 jobs, is expected in the Gulf of Mexico region. The East region is expected to contribute nearly 140,000 job opportunities and the Rockies region nearly 116,000 job opportunities. The West, Alaska, and Central regions will combine to contribute approximately 138,000 job opportunities.
  • More than 50 percent of all jobs created would be high-paying skilled and semi-skilled blue collar jobs with a significant range of opportunities at the scientific/managerial level – such as petroleum engineers, most of which require a college degree. Here’s a breakdown of the potential job creation by type:

A couple of key factors. Workforce training that includes significant improvement in disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics is needed at the primary and secondary school level. Along with that, significant increases in high school completion rates are needed for African Americans and Latinos to be competitive for potential industry jobs.

The second key is implementation of a set of pro-energy development policies – including increased access to domestic oil and natural gas resources; a common-sense approach to federal leasing, permitting and regulation; fostering investment in energy infrastructure (such as the Keystone XL pipeline and other pipelines) and more.

The resulting opportunity is significant for African Americans and Latinos – as the IHS study indicates – and all Americans in terms of jobs, investment in our economy and energy development to run our economy and sustain modern lifestyles. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The industry has a great story to tell, polls show that job creation is a top priority for Americans, and the oil and natural gas industry will be a key driver for those new jobs for all Americans. Research shows that half of our industry will turn over in the next seven to 10 years, and with the expansion of shale energy and other oil and natural gas development, we have an unprecedented opportunity for job growth across the country that will benefit Americans from every community.”


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.