The Non-Green Jobs Boom – from Hydraulic Fracturing

An excellent article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on the non-green jobs boom coming from the energy sector—specifically due to horizontal drilling and the use of hydraulic fracturing—starts out this way:

So President Obama was right all along. Domestic energy production really is a path to prosperity and new job creation. His mistake was predicting that those new jobs would be "green," when the real employment boom is taking place in oil and gas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.

The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.

The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation’s lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.

Or take production in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale formation, which the state Department of Labor and Industry says created 18,000 new jobs in the first half of 2011. Some 214,000 jobs are now tied to a natural gas industry that barely existed in the Keystone State a decade ago. Energy firms are also rushing to develop the Utica shale in eastern Ohio, and they are expanding operations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, among other places.*

Read the rest of the article by clicking the link below.

*Wall Street Journal (Nov 28, 2011) – The Non-Green Jobs Boom

  • Anonymous

    Coming from the Wall Street Journal opinion page, I expect some distortion of reality but PLEASE;this is too much. I.’m a strong supporter of natural gas and oil development if is done environmentally soundly. It creates a lot of jobs. But the article failed to mention while the oil and gas industry created 220000 Jobs since 2003, the alternative energy industry has created 110000 jobs since 2005. The price of solar photovoltaics has dropped 70% to $1.10 per watt from $ 4.00 per watt since  2007. Like a stock fund that invest in high risk emerging technologies; a few will fail, some will do okay,and a couple will become the next  Apple or Microsoft. So too the D.O.E. investment in cutting edge technologies will lead us into new industries supporting our children’s labor force.

  • I agree with your common sense approach. It should be oil/gas versus green energy sources. If there were a “smart” energy company (or companies) out there that was interested in becoming the next “Apple” type business it would anticipate the overall needs and future of the energy industry and develop a company (or partner companies) that focuses on several sources in tandum. The fact is we are currently VERY MUCH dependant on oil/gas and therefore it can’t and isn’t going away anytime soon. However, if a company were to focus on several technologies we may be able to come up with more hybrid energy sources that allow us to be more efficient and responsible in our consumption of natural resources. Common sense……. and compromise would get us so much further.

  • Ah, but the issue is if you spread too thin then you cannot compete with the companies that focus their attention.  That is precisely why (well, one reason) many of the large oil companies have pet/side projects in various renewables.  They throw some money in the pot, keep their foothold and stay in the game, but the innovation will come from a smaller, dedicated company.  THEN, a bigger corporation will swoop in and acquire the technology.  But to spread your resources out is to dilute and likely not the best approach.

  • Anonymous

    “… renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, …” are tiny compared to the ordinary subsidies of the O&G industry.  Many companies drilling in the Marcelllus deduct most if not all their drilling expenses.  At $4 Mcf, it is questionable if shale gas would be profitable without these massive federal subsidies.  The PA gas boom is built on picking the pockets of the federal tax payers.