February 23, 2018

Jobs Impact of Shale Drilling Exaggerated by Industry

New report examining drilling-related employment across 6 states in the Marcellus and Utica Shale
By Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative

Six-state study finds jobs impact of shale drilling exaggerated by industry and supporters

Download the Press Release as a pdf
Download the Full Report as a pdf

Drilling in the six states that span the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations has produced far fewer new jobs than the industry and its supporters claim, according to a report released today by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, a group of state-level research organizations tracking the impacts of shale drilling.

“Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation, and even careful examination of shale drilling,” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York.

Shale drilling has created jobs, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cushioned some drilling-intensive areas in those states from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the weak recovery. As this report documents, however, the number of shale jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment.

“This report shows very few shale-related jobs created in Ohio,” said Amanda Woodrum, energy researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. “If Pennsylvania and West Virginia are indicators of what we can expect in Ohio, employment in Ohio’s shale industry will continue to be very modest.”

The Marcellus and Utica shale formations span six states: New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Natural gas development in these six states was fueled by high commodity prices from 2000 to 2008. As prices have declined more recently, gas-drilling activity has slowed while development of higher-priced oil has accelerated.

“Shale drilling has been made little difference in job growth in any of the six states we studied,” said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania. “We know this because we now have data on what happened, not what industry supporters hoped would happen.”

Recent trends are consistent with the boom and bust pattern that has characterized extractive industries for decades. It also points to the need for state and local policymakers to collaborate to enact policies that serve the public interest.

“Counting shale jobs accurately will help state and local governments plan for impacts and removes the hype intended to discourage unbiased scrutiny of the industry’s pluses and minuses,” said Herzenberg. “Our report recommends a six-state commission that establishes a consensus method to track jobs.”