Gas drilling is producing major job numbers in Pennsylvania, as evidenced by both employment numbers and job training initiatives being taken in the region.
We hear on occasion from our anti-gas friends that gas drilling doesn’t bring jobs to Pennsylvania or that the jobs are taken by out of state workers. But, when you look at the unemployment rate numbers for Pennsylvania by county the numbers show a very different story.
According to the Bureau Of Labor Statics, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania dropped in all but five counties between August 2012 and August 2013. Those Counties were Centre, Huntington, Somerset, Sullivan, and Union. These counties seen an increase of 0.0 to 0.2 %. According to fracktrack.org, Centre County has 179 wells, Huntington has one, Somerset has 47, Sullivan has 197, and Union has none. That’s a total of 424 wells. Not very much gas drilling activity is going on in these counties.
The counties with the highest unemployment rates are Cameron at 11.4%, Philadelphia is at 11.0%, Forest has 10.7%, Monroe 9.5%, and Luzerne at 9.5%. Although they are the highest, they saw a decrease from 2012 to 2013 in the range of 0.4% to 0.6%. There 28 wells in Cameron County, none in Philadelphia, 37 in Forest, none in Monroe and 15 in Luzerne, for a total of 80 wells. Once again, there is not much gas drilling activities in these areas and much of it has been only exploratory in nature.
The national unemployment rate is 7.3% and there are 19 counties in Pennsylvania that are below the national average. Those counties include Susquehanna at 6.7%, Greene at 6.7%, Butler at 6.7%, Bradford at 6.8%, and Washington at 6.9%. There are, in Susquehanna County, some 1,235 wells, Greene has 805, Butler has 379, Bradford has 2,504, and Washington has 1,258. That’s a total of 6,181 wells. The numbers of wells, contrasted with the low unemployment rates, speak for themselves.
The workers who come from out of state are the ones who travel with the gas drilling rigs. As a matter of fact I know several people from Pennsylvania who travel to other gas drilling states because of their work on the rigs. I also know three people who came here from New York for work because of the moratorium. You can read about them here.
I’ve written before about what kinds of jobs are available to local people and the training they can receive at the high school level. Now, there are even more training opportunities coming for people who wish to work in the industry and some of the offshoots.
For instance, next semester, Johnson College in Scranton, Pa. will begin offering training in CNG fuel systems for its automotive and diesel technology students. The school plans to have a certificate program by 2015, said Katie Leonard, senior vice president of college advancement. Johnson College is responding to both need and opportunity, a fact that speaks volumes about the real world impact of gas drilling on our Pennsylvania economy.
The use of natural gas as a transportation fuel also brings a demand for knowledgeable mechanics. Companies are in the process of building CNG fueling stations across Pennsylvania right now for use as a transportation fuel, which in turn is creating jobs. Pipelines need to be laid and stations need to be built and it’s happening as I write this.
So, for those of you who say gas drilling doesn’t bring jobs, the numbers just don’t support your argument.