Shale Development Leads to Economic Growth in the Mahoning Valley
Things in Mahoning Valley are trending in the right direction after years of economic stagnation. Shale development is playing a large role in the comeback story of the decade. According to the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the unemployment rate, the total number of jobs in the Youngstown–Warren–Boardman Metropolitan Statistical Area, continues to rise.
The number of jobs in the metro area rose in November with 228,000 jobs, up from 227,600 in October 2012 and up from 224,200 in November 2011. (Chamber Touts Rise in Total Jobs, Brookings Report, 1-2-13)
Since the valley has long been home to strong, skilled organized labor, some of those jobs went to the valley’s many union labor workers like those with Local 396, the Plumbers ans Pipefitters Union.
The union has gone from 40 percent unemployment among members to 100 percent employment with a 12 percent growth in membership. – Butch Taylor, Local 396 business manager. (Shale Industry Leads to Growth of Pipefitters Union, 12-19-12)
In addition to the new jobs that have been created, the valley is seeing real economic growth because of overall investment. One great example is what is happening at the Youngstown Business Incubator. The incubator is now the home of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Also, at Youngstown State is now the location of the new STEM college program. STEM focuses students on 4 key areas; science, technology, engineering and math. These are all areas of focus for students who will be looking for work in the natural gas industry.
Energy, materials, advanced manufacturing, software development, biotechnology — there’s a very rich technology blend emerging here. – Mike Hripko, Director of technology-based economic development at the Youngstown State University ,College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Business Incubator Says You Can Come Home Again, 12-28-12)
It isn’t just the university and the incubator that have seen good things happening; the regional chamber has also noted the change. The latest chamber report card shows $1 billion in economic activity in three years and nearly 3,000 new jobs.
Overall, 2012 turned out to be a pretty good year for the economy in the Valley, and we have reason to believe it will continue in 2013. Trumbull and Mahoning counties as well as the cities of Youngstown and Warren have registered “impressive” jobless rate declines during the last year with Youngstown’s 18% decrease (1.9 points) leading the way. – Tom Humphries, President and CEO of the Regional Chamber (Chamber Touts Rise in Total Jobs, Brookings Report, 1-2-13)
In addition to the chamber report card the Brookings Institution, in its quarterly Metro Monitor report, compared economic conditions in 2012’s third quarter with the peak of the recession in 2009, confirms the area’s continuing economic recovery. The report noted a couple of highlights about the valley:
- The Youngstown-Warren area ranked 22nd out of the largest 100 U.S. metro areas for rate of economic recovery.
- The Mahoning Valley also ranked 4th in the nation in the percentage drop in the unemployment rate since 2009.
- The area also saw an increase of 9.1% in jobs in the mining section which includes oil and gas development.
- The region ranked in employment out of 100.
- The valley is 4th in unemployment.
The valley is not out of the woods just yet, but trending in the direction of overall growth in the economy, stronger neighborhoods, new businesses, and a brighter tomorrow. Leading the way is shale development both directly and indirectly. By exploring for and producing natural gas, the valley has been given a way out and a return to its former glory.