Shale Jobs: Where the Action Is

Shale Jobs  - Tom Shepstone reportsTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

   

The Energy Information Administration is out with some more stunning information about the power of shale jobs. It’s where the action is.

Readers of this bog know we frequently go to EIA for data because no one does it better in terms of collecting and objectively analyzing data on the energy system. As I’ve noted before, it is that remarkable anomaly: a government agency that actually knows its mission and works. We have another example from their November 5 Today In Energy column authored by Robert McManmon. Titled “Texas Leads Nation in Growth in Oil and Natural Gas Production Jobs During 2013,” it’s packed full of revealing data on the industry across several plays – data on shale jobs.

Here is the chart that got my attention; it is a statistical concerto not unlike a sheet of music for something akin to the William Tell Overture where the music is intended to invoke a Swiss Alps image in the mind of the listener. Putting it in American terms, it’s like the Lone Ranger riding to the rescue, which is no coincidence, given it’s the same music and shale jobs are, in fact, riding to the rescue of our economy and the rural areas where all that activity is taking place.

Shale Jobs

The data is from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the jobs limited to those related directly to oil and gas extraction, support activities for oil and gas operations and drilling oil and gas wells. The numbers do not reflect all the ancillary and indirect jobs involved, which, as we now from Pennsylvania data, for example, represent the bulk of the economic activity. The EIA data doesn’t refer to shale jobs per se, but a quick look at the map included makes it explicitly clear that’s where they come from; six shale plays plus the Permian Basin, which has both shale and conventional oil and gas development.

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According to the EIA:

Texas added more than 19,000 new private sector jobs in oil and natural gas production in 2013, almost six times the number added in New Mexico, the next highest state for oil and natural gas production jobs added last year. The extraction, drilling, and support jobs categories are a measure of on-the-ground production jobs, and do not reflect the many jobs at oil and natural gas corporate headquarters based in Texas.

In the past decade, growth of jobs in oil and natural gas extraction, drilling, and support activities has outpaced the national average of private sector job gains. Overall, oil and natural gas production jobs in the United States increased from 292,846 annual jobs in 2003 to 476,356 in 2008, a 63% increase. Following the net loss of 54,323 oil and natural gas production jobs during the 2008-09 recession and relatively little national job growth, jobs in oil and natural gas production increased another 28% from 2009 to 2013, from 422,033 to 586,884. Additionally, average wages of oil and natural gas production jobs were $108,000 in 2013, more than twice the average wage for all private sector industries. Since 2009, average wages from oil and natural gas production jobs have increased by 12%, compared with a 10% increase for all private sector industries.

The EIA does note “much of the growth in oil and natural gas jobs can be traced to growing onshore production in several shale formations in the lower 48 states” pointing out the following:

  • Texas is home to the Eagle Ford, the most prolific oil-producing play, as well as much of the Permian and Haynesville formations.
  • North Dakota contains most of the Bakken formation, whose oil production has spurred significant employment and state product growth over the past decade in what was one of the smallest state economies.
  • New Mexico has four large counties producing from the oil-rich Permian Basin that contains 3 of the 100 largest oil fields in the United States.
  • Pennsylvania has seen significant job growth from natural gas production in the Marcellus region in recent years, although growth flattened during 2012-13.
  • Colorado and Wyoming share the oil and natural gas-producing Niobrara formation.

The EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report provides more details but that musical chart says it all, doesn’t it? Shale jobs represent the masked man riding to the rescue of rural America, while helping all of America to become energy independent. The Lone Ranger rides again and William Tell is still out there performing miracles with his fine-tuned skills.

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