How many jobs does the oil and gas industry really create in production states?

Statistics compiled by Workforce West Virginia, a workforce development network, reveal that the number of West Virginia residents working directly for gas and oil drillers has not increased over the past two years, despite a continued upswing in drilling and fracking. More information is available in this article. The number of workers actually decreased from 2010 to 2011.

On the other hand, a 2009 report published by the University of Massachusetts found that net job creation is substantially higher with clean energy investments than fossil fuels at different educational levels. The paper determined that, when compared to fossil fuel energy, clean energy investments create 2.6 times more college degree jobs; 3.0 times more ‘some-college’ jobs; and 3.6 times more ‘high school or less’ jobs. While average wages are higher in fossil fuel, there are more types of all jobs in cleaner energy.

The Massachusetts researchers also found that a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy investments will yield a net increase in U.S. employment of 1.7 million jobs—i.e. an increase in 2.5 million jobs through clean-energy investments and a corresponding decline of about 790,000 jobs in fossil fuels. This assumes that there is available unemployed labor (there would be no change in employment if people had to be moved from one job to another).

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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