New Report Underscores Importance of Oil and Natural Gas Jobs in Alleviating Poverty

A new report from Speaker Paul Ryan’s Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility, underscores the importance of America’s energy industry in creating the types of jobs that are critical to alleviating poverty across the nation.

The report outlines a series of policy recommendations with an emphasis on job training and workforce development in career fields that are in demand. From the report:

“In the modern economy, careers in innovative and in-demand fields are opening up to professionals with the right skill sets, and for many, career and technical education (CTE) is the stepping stone to opportunity and success. By empowering young Americans with the job skills necessary to become independent and productive citizens, we can reduce the number of American’s trapped by our failed welfare system in the future.”

As the American Petroleum Institute (API) highlights in a press release lauding the recommendations, research shows that many of the in-demand jobs in the coming decades will be in oil and natural gas development. From API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel:

“Pro-energy policy is the best starting point for any plan to reduce poverty in America and turn our still-struggling economy around,” said Finkel. “With average salaries $50,000 higher than other industries and job opportunities across a range of skills and education levels, the oil and natural gas industry offers obvious solutions to disappointing job growth and wage stagnation.

A recent IHS report projects 1.9 million job opportunities in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries through 2035, including many for women and minorities. Pro-energy policies that remove the barriers to energy development and infrastructure construction, along with proper education and job training, can help lift Americans out of poverty and create millions of jobs. “

Finkel is referring to a recent analysis from IHS and API projecting that over the next 20 years, about 1.9 million new jobs will be created in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries. And as EID has previously reported, the analysis shows that job growth in this sector is projected to be especially strong for women and minorities, a population segment emphasized by the task force in its report. From IHS:

“Women will share in the growth of more skilled white collar jobs in the industry. We project that women will account for a rising share of job opportunities in management and professional occupations such as petroleum engineers, environmental scientists, accountants and technicians.”

The report goes on:

“[The number of minorities in oil and gas] will [continue to] rise from about a quarter of the total to 86% by 2035. African American and Hispanics are expected to make up over 25% of the hires in industry management, financial and business jobs during this time.” [emphasis added]

The impact of shale development in alleviating poverty has been well documented. One recent Harvard Business School analysis found that shale development has been a “game changer” for creating well-paying jobs:

supporting American jobs that pay, on average two times the median U.S. salary. Fully 50% of unconventional production jobs are middle-skills jobs, accessible to the average citizen.” (Emphasis added)

The Harvard Business School report goes on to show how shale development has been beneficial even for those not directly or indirectly employed by shale related jobs. According to the report, American households have realized low-cost natural gas savings of $800 per household. Utility bills for electricity and heating are immediate and impactful ways that shale development is in fact fighting poverty and providing savings to consumers.

Even more recently, the role fracking has played in alleviating poverty was also recently highlighted in a New York Times Op-Ed entitled Can Liberals Frack? From the piece:

“Second, fracking fights poverty and reduces inequality. In the United States, personal expenditures on energy dropped 16 percent in 2015 because of falling oil and gas prices. Lower energy prices are even more important in poorer nations, where consumers spend a higher percentage of gross domestic product on energy than richer ones. Lower fossil fuel prices are joining plummeting renewable costs in providing cheap energy to the world on all fronts, easing the growth of electricity and clean water in places that desperately need it.” (Emphasis added)

The bottom line is that shale continues to drive the U.S. economy in ways that we have not imagined in decades. It means consumers are saving at the pump and are paying less in their electricity bills. And along with those savings, the energy industry will continue to play a huge role in driving economic growth and creating the types of jobs that change people’s economic circumstances and alleviate poverty.

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