The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Broad Benefits Result From Developing American Energy

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 7, 2014

U.S. Energy Boom Lifts Low-Income Workers Too

Wall Street Journal op-ed (subscription required): Mayors, governors and economic-development officials love natural-resource jobs—and today's North American energy revolution has been providing a lot of them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new jobs in the oil and gas industry (technically a part of mining) increased by roughly 270,000 between 2003 and 2012. This is an increase of about 92% compared with a 3% increase in all jobs during the same period.

The people of New York and other states that have so far declined to take part in the boom might like to know what they are missing because these jobs pay well. The BLS reports that the U.S. average annual wage (which excludes employer-paid benefits) in the oil and gas industry was about $107,200 during 2012, the latest full year available. That's more than double the average of $49,300 for all workers.

At the other end of the wage spectrum are waiters and waitresses in food services nationwide earning about $16,200 a year, workers in the accommodations industry with average pay of $27,300, and those in the retail trade with average wages of $27,700. But the evidence from the oil boom regions is that energy development lifts wages for low-income workers too.

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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.