EnergyFactor By ExxonMobil | Pespectives has a new home

Some New York residents cross the border for jobs

You may have heard the old adage “you have to go where the jobs are.” For some residents of southern New York, that means crossing the border into neighboring Pennsylvania to take advantage of the job growth flowing from the natural gas boom on the Marcellus Shale.

“The economy is stalled in most parts of upstate [New York],” writes Brian McMahon, executive director of the New York State economic Development Council, in a recent Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal article.

“Unemployment remains high. Local governments and school districts in the Southern Tier struggle to make budget cuts. Yet, every morning residents in the Binghamton and Elmira areas watch as hundreds of workers get in their trucks and cars, leave their houses, apartments and hotels, and cross the border to northern Pennsylvania to go to good jobs in the shale gas industry. What is wrong with this picture?”

It’s a tale of two states: Pennsylvania has seen record job growth thanks to the development of the Marcellus Shale – more than 72,000 new jobs since 2009, according to McMahon.

New York, on the other hand, chose a different path. The Empire State instituted a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process used to produce natural gas from shale formations. In the meantime, the state has struggled with job creation, with unemployment hovering at 8 percent. Despite this joblessness, the state government has taken more than two years to pass regulations to allow shale gas recovery.

According to one study, ending the moratorium could provide a much needed boost to the New York economy, including:

  • $11.4 billion in economic output
  • $1.4 billion in tax revenues
  • Some 15,000 to 18,000 jobs could be created in the Southern Tier and Western New York, regions which lost a combined 48,000 payroll jobs between 2000 and 2010.
  • 75,000 to 90,000 jobs could be created if the area of exploration and drilling were expanded to include the Utica Shale and southeastern New York, including the New York City watershed.

One only has to look at Chemung County, N.Y. to see the potential benefits of shale gas production.

Chemung County is on the border with Pennsylvania. The county, according to McMahon, has led New York State in sales tax growth and room tax growth since 2009, largely due to the shale gas drilling right across the border. In the town of Elmira, N.Y., gas industry businesses have developed or renovated 1 million square feet of manufacturing and office space, and the regional airport has seen its highest amount of business since 1988.

Those are just the benefits from being a neighbor of shale gas production, and they could be even greater if New York were to develop its own resources.

“It is time to reverse the direction of the trucks leaving for Pennsylvania every morning and to support good jobs now right here in New York,” McMahon said. “It is time to approve Marcellus Shale gas development.”

  • Worth a deeper look...