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The oil and gas industry – creating real jobs for real people

A recent article questioning the employment created by oil and natural gas activities might come as a surprise to the 9.2 million Americans whose jobs are supported by our industry.

The story, which made its way onto the front page of the Washington Post yesterday, raised questions about the validity of estimates coming from researchers and trade associations because those estimates include jobs that are created in supporting the work of the oil and gas industry – service station employees or steel suppliers who provide raw materials for industry projects are two examples.

Last time I checked, a job is a job – and our country needs every one of them.

And while critics may spend time trying to cast doubt on the estimates of jobs related to certain industries, the facts coming from communities across America are clear.

Consider a recent example from ExxonMobil: Our affiliate SeaRiver Maritime just signed a contract with a Philadelphia shipyard to build two tankers, valued at $400 million – a project that will create 1,000 direct jobs.

Of course, those 1,000 jobs will never be reflected in ExxonMobil’s employment statistics – but they are nonetheless a direct result of the significant capital investments we continue to make in the United States during this economic downturn.

Similarly, I’ve written about recent examples of where U.S. oil and gas investments are creating jobs in other industries – a new $650 million steel plant in Ohio, for example, is employing 400 construction workers and will create 350 new jobs to support steelmaking for growing shale gas production.

Despite what some may say, just because the steelmaking jobs won’t show up on oil and gas payrolls doesn’t mean we didn’t help create them.

Greater shale production throughout the United States is leading to undeniable job growth in many states.

Recently, I wrote about a study that found that Barnett shale development is responsible for $11.1 billion in annual economic output and more than 100,000 jobs — just in the North Texas region in 2011 alone.

An article published recently by Natural Gas Intelligence (“Want Jobs? Drill Shale, Statistics Indicate”) offers even more evidence of the growth of shale jobs: “Two counties in western Pennsylvania, a red hot region of the Marcellus Shale, were among the top 10 in the nation for employment gains in large counties between March 2010 and March 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

In fact, U.S. government data show that the oil and gas industry is one of the few industries in the U.S. actually creating jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. oil and gas industry created more than 4,700 jobs between July and August – a month when the U.S. economy as whole created virtually none.

So while I can offer statistic after statistic showing how the oil and natural gas industry is creating jobs, I might suggest another way of approaching this subject:

Go ask the construction worker on a steel plant site in Ohio – or a hotel employee in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania – or a service provider in West Texas – if they think their jobs are real. I bet they do, and I bet they don’t care if they’re labeled “direct,” “indirect” or “induced” jobs of the oil and natural gas industry. A job is a job, and we need every one of them – and more.

  • Worth a deeper look...