Appalachian Basin

‘Fastest Growing Industry’ Brings Job Seekers to Ohio Valley

It was six years ago that EID reported “Utica Shale Makes More Jobs Available to Ohioans,” and since then we’ve watched shale development completely transform communities up and down the Ohio River in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, driving down unemployment in some of the most economically depressed areas of the country.

That employment growth has continued, as six years later local headlines report that oil and natural gas is the fastest growing industry in the Ohio Valley. In fact, the continued jobs growth is attracting people from all over the country to relocate to areas like Belmont County, Ohio. As Keith Petroski, who recently moved to the Ohio Valley from Florida, recently told 7News,

“It seems like these industries are growing in this area. I just moved here from Florida. There’s a lot more opportunities here than where I came from.”

Employment recruiters from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are actively seeking workers to fill positions related to the “fastest growing industry in the Ohio Valley,” as Mallory Kerr, HR Coordinator for Penn Mechanical group, reported,

“The oil and gas industry is definitely growing here. It’s actually hard to find people, which means that people are working. That’s a good problem to have.”

Jobs related to drilling operations continue to be “in demand” and thanks to an uptick in drilling activity, shale producers in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have an urgent need for local workers to support those activities. In fact, the demand is so great that employment recruiters recently held a Tri-State Natural Gas Job Fair in St. Clairsville, Ohio on June 14. The event showcased numerous companies — both large and small — offering a flurry of jobs directly related to drilling activities, including some that are even paying a $2,000 sign-on bonus. Local contractors are currently paying over $60,000 annually for truck drivers, or over $28.85 per hour, which is more than double what the most common jobs in Ohio currently pay, according to a new report cited by the Columbus Dispatch.

To put this into perspective, a $60,000 per year salary is 27 percent higher than the income needed to rent a four-bedroom house in the Weirton, West Virginia/Steubenville, Ohio region, where over 34 percent of households are renters.  Liz Adwell, Event Coordinator of the Tri-State Natural Gas Job Fair, told EID that they hosted hundreds of job-seekers at the June 14 job fair. Adwell recounted the successful event, telling EID,

“A lot of these companies, their corporate headquarters may not be here, but guess what? They are hiring here locally. It’s an unfortunate scenario that people may think companies are not hiring local, because they are. Many of these local jobs pay $60,000, $70,000 and up, that’s a great wage here.”

Adwell concurred with the statement made to 7News, telling EID that they have had inquiries from all over the country with interest from job-seekers wanting to come to the Appalachian Basin, or as the region now is being called, the “Shale Crescent USA.” The “Shale Crescent USA” rebranding effort, aimed at shedding the negative image of the “Rust Belt,” might just be paying off, as Adwell said she had over 5,000 visitors from all over the country to the job fair website this month alone.

Over the past few years, the media has been quick to claim that the Appalachian Basin shale renaissance might be a “bust,” but continued record-breaking natural gas production has led to ongoing local job creation, as shale continues to be the fasting growing industry in the region.

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