CAP Ignores Oil & Gas Jobs to Claim Oil & Gas Creates Few Jobs

Yesterday, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a “report” claiming that the enormous number of jobs created from oil and gas development are actually “dubious,” arguing that “the industry” has inflated the numbers to make its impact seem larger than it really is.  But in order to make that argument, CAP had to twist the facts, and it even revealed some stunning hypocrisy along the way.

Right off the bat, the CAP researchers explain that they compared data from a study — compiled for the American Petroleum Institute by PwC — to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But when the numbers didn’t match up, CAP came to some wild conclusions.  From CAP’s report:

“The second PwC study found that extraction accounted for 783,800 jobs in 2011, while BLS data indicate that there were only 172,000 extraction jobs—a difference of more than 600,000 jobs. Interestingly, we found that the seasonally adjusted employment figure for mining at the end of 2011 was 783,100 in the BLS database. This suggests that PwC used this overall figure that includes oil and gas well and extraction jobs but also counts mining and quarrying jobs related to coal and other mineral solids. Therefore, the number used by PwC is, once again, inaccurate.”

But if the CAP researchers had bothered to read the PwC report, they would know that it uses data not only from BLS but also from the “U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and U.S. Census Bureau and 2011 input-output relationships from the IMPLAN modeling system.” Appendix B of the PwC report further explains,

“This study uses data on employment, employee compensation, proprietors’ income, and GDP by industry from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Economic Accounts and data on employment and wages and salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages to develop our estimates of the direct economic impact of the oil and natural gas industry.

“PwC’s employment estimates include both full-time and part-time workers as well as self-employed business owners. The State Annual Personal Income and Employment data set published by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (‘BEA’) is the only source on total employment including self-employed individuals by industry.” (p. 79)

So no, PwC didn’t count “related to coal and other mineral solids” as CAP alleges – it used data that includes self-employed and part-time workers, which the BLS data does not include.

Shockingly, CAP then proceeds to argue that some jobs connected to oil and gas (i.e. gas station employees) are not that important, because those people are merely “low-paid cashiers and attendants who also sell nonpetroleum products, such as cigarettes and snacks.” Deliberately ignoring the facts and manipulating data are bad enough, but is CAP so intent on bashing the industry that it’s willing to denigrate people who don’t get to work in a fancy building like this?

Equally as telling is that CAP decided that indirect jobs connected to the oil and gas industry are not relevant, and were thus omitted, but it has heaped the highest praise for indirect jobs in renewable energy and other industries it wants to promote (see here, here, here, here and here). As the Free Beacon reported:

“The group [CAP] has cried foul when other analysts have failed to account for ‘indirect jobs’ in their assessments of employment in green energy sectors.

‘Only jobs created directly from Recovery Act funds are reported—and then only from prime contractors and recipients—potentially leaving millions of indirect jobs uncounted,’ CAP complained in one report on employment resulting from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.”

Yet, when it comes to oil and gas jobs, CAP has this to say:

“In contrast to the PwC jobs numbers, our employment count does not include indirect jobs created by the oil and gas industry, such as those in the electric utility industry, because these estimates are often subjective and can be difficult to quantify.” (emphasis added)

Even more outrageous is this claim from CAP’s report:

“Natural gas distribution is part of the utility industry and is listed under the category ‘utilities’ in the BLS database. While petroleum products are one of the largest inputs used in asphalt-paving- and roofing-materials manufacturing, these jobs are in the manufacturing sector. And petroleum-based lubricant manufacturing should also be classified as manufacturing. So the PwC direct job estimates are inflated by including these three activities that are not part of the oil and gas industry.”

In other words, according to CAP, jobs that would not exist without oil and gas development such as natural gas distribution should not be counted as related to oil and gas.  Even more bizarre is that CAP even admits that “petroleum products are one of the largest inputs” for several of the sectors that they refuse to count as related to oil and gas!

Millions of Americans across the country are better off today because of oil and gas development. Working families have high-paying and sustainable jobs, and lower energy costs allow small and large businesses alike to hire more people and further invest in their communities. No amount of shoddy or deliberately skewed research can change those facts.

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