Out-of-State Gas Workers Mean Continued High Unemployment

One of the criticisms of the Marcellus shale gas drilling industry is that although it brings with it an economic boom, including many jobs, sometimes those jobs are taken by out-of-state workers and not local workers. Drillers will say there are not enough skilled local workers to fill the positions. Labor leaders and local economic development officials will say, “Train them and there will be!”

According to Dave Efaw, secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council, local drillers need to step up to the plate and start hiring more local workers:

There is currently quite a discrepancy in Wetzel County. Last month, Wetzel was again ranked as having the highest unemployment rate in the state, but it also has the highest rate of natural gas drilling activity in the region. How can a county that’s booming with Marcellus Shale natural gas development still have record high unemployment?

Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, knows the answer. "Wetzel County has the state’s highest unemployment rate, while the hotels are inundated with out-of-state workers," Manchin told a meeting of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Charleston.

Wetzel citizens are watching the natural gas industry flourish in their own backyard, while RVs and trucks with license plates from Texas, Louisiana and other far-flung states roll in to do jobs local workers should be doing.

In a region that has both high unemployment as well as a trained, professional work force of men and women ready and anxious to work, there is absolutely no reason to import large numbers of out-of-state workers.

Dominion and other energy companies are big on publicizing their commitment to local communities and spreading a lot of token donations around to local organizations. However, big public-relations campaigns and a few donations aren’t going to help Wetzel County’s biggest problem: unemployment.

If the energy companies are truly committed to contributing to our local communities, whose natural resources mean billions to their bottom line, they need to hire locally.*

Read the rest of Mr. Efaw’s editorial by clicking the link below.

*The Charleston Gazette (Dec 6, 2011) – Dave Efaw: Drillers should be hiring locals