New report: jobs from shale gas development greatly exaggerated by industry

A new report out this week shows that oil and gas industry projections for job creation from fracking have been grossly overstated. And if you look at the exact numbers, you’ll see that’s an understatement.

The report comes from the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, which consists of independent, nonpartisan research and policy organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia that monitor employment trends, tax policy, economic development, and the community impacts of energy extraction in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. The Collaborative has an advisory committee of academic experts.

The new report is entitled: Exaggerating the Employment Impacts of Shale Drilling: How and Why. It contains a lot of great data and important analysis. Among the key findings:

  • Between 2005 and 2012, an estimated 3.7 jobs were created for every well drilled in the region, but claims in industry-financed studies include estimates as high as 31 jobs created per well drilled -- inflation of more than 800 percent!
  • While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed in July, 2012, that shale gas production “created over 300,000 new jobs in the last two years” in Pennsylvania, state data at the time indicated that, between 2008 and 2011 (three years), the industry had only created 18,007 jobs in “core” industries and an additional 5,611 jobs in “ancillary” industries. That's less than 10 percent of what industry claimed.
  • The state that has seen the most job growth as a share of total employment--West Virginia--still has less than one percent shale-related employment.

Of course, we want to see creation of good jobs for Americans around the country, but research has found that net job creation is substantially higher with clean energy investments than fossil fuels at different educational levels--and there are more types of all jobs in cleaner energy. 

Solar plants and wind farms are revitalizing rural communities and manufacturing towns, and adding critical sources of clean, domestic power to our energy supply. While the oil and gas industry laid off 10,000 workers during the recession, renewable energy companies added a half million jobs between 2003 and 2010. In fact, the renewable energy industry has grown at twice the rate of the overall economy, and green jobs employ 2.7 million Americans – that's more than the entire fossil fuels industry combined. 

On top of the economic benefits, clean energy from energy efficiency and renewable sources can help keep our air and water clean, keep families and communities healthy, and help fight poverty. That's the future Americans want for our country.

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

Join Us