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

Amy Mall

Posted November 21, 2013

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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.

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Michael BerndtsonNov 21 2013 08:43 PM

Maybe oil and gas established job equivalents. Let's say a good paying drilling and pipelining job is $50,000 per year. So for example a political consultant is hired for $1,000,000. That would be 20 job equivalents. Also, the example consultant's pool doesn't clean itself and the lawn needs cutting. More jobs. A $20 million gift to a university to establish an unconventional oil and gas institute. That would be 400 job equivalents. Then there are journalists, stock brokers, lawyers, PR flacks, think tankers and lobbyists that become more jobs based on worker equivalents. Given all the shale plays it adds up quick. Cutting the unit metric in half to $25,000, which is within reason for rural America becomes twice as many jobs. Just like that. That was satire and not true.

Mark RoestNov 25 2013 04:46 AM

MS Beaton is generalizing, and wrong. The fossil fuel industry is not average -- it uses far more equipment and far less labor per dollar of revenue generated than most other industries.

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