Labor Day is a Little Brighter Thanks to Shale Development
Since 1882, the first Monday in September has been celebrated as Labor Day. Since its inception, the holiday has marked the end of summer and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers that have helped shape the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
In Pennsylvania the holiday takes on a special tone and character this year thanks, in part, to the continued development of the Marcellus Shale. While still struggling to regain economic footing it had prior to the recession, in the past few years Pennsylvania has enjoyed more robust economic activity than most of its neighbors.
This is easily noticed in academic studies and recent experience which both show the employment impacts of Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania. A recent Penn State study showed that during 2010, natural gas development supported nearly 140,000 jobs throughout the Keystone State. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor that number grew to nearly 240,000 jobs supported by natural gas development in 2011. Marcellus Shale development is not just providing many jobs throughout the Commonwealth, the jobs its providing pay well with an industry wide average salary of $81,116.
Marcellus Shale development is not only providing more jobs for Pennsylvanians, it’s also helping increase the quality of life for entire regions. In fact, a review of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Pennsylvania is home to two of the top 100 counties – Bradford and Washington- experiencing the nation’s highest wage growth.
A closer review of that analysis shows the highest wage increases were experienced in counties that had significant Marcellus Shale activity – confirming findings from an earlier study that regions which produce domestic energy do better economically than those that do not.
This trend can also be seen in state unemployment rates in our region. A closer review shows that every state hosting shale development has a lower unemployment rate than the national average. The one state in our region not allowing shale development, New York, has an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, a staggering 1.4 percent above the national average. This difference can be seen in a quick review of the below chart which tracks the unemployment rates of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.
As we celebrate this Labor Day holiday we can rest assured knowing that more of our neighbors have jobs today thanks, in part, to the natural gas industry. These jobs are good paying jobs that provide opportunities for younger workers, while also helping more experienced workers receive a competitive wage for their skills. With shale development helping improve the employment prospects throughout the Appalachian region we can breathe a little easier this year when we say happy Labor Day.