Marcellus Shale

Wages Jump in Shale Country

A new analysis shows that as the Marcellus Shale has grown from its infancy to adolescence, residents in counties experiencing the largest share of Marcellus Shale development are seeing their paychecks grow as well.  The analysis, conducted by American City Business Journals, found that wages in Bradford and Washington counties are among the fastest growing in the nation. These counties have little in common with one exception – they are leaders in developing the Marcellus Shale.

The new analysis, featured in the Pittsburgh Business Times lays out the situation in pretty clear terms:

The analysis found that both Bradford and Washington were in the top 100 of the nation’s highest wage growth in the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ average wage per job.

The two were the highest in Pennsylvania as well. Bradford, with a 5.7 percent increase to $36,674 was No. 33. Washington, with a 4.42 percent increase to $42,491, was No. 94.

These counties are both leaders in Marcellus activity in the Commonwealth as noticed in a quick review of  Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data highlighting Marcellus Shale activity on a county-by-county basis.  The images below show this pretty clearly with Bradford County seeing 499 wells and Washington County  having 277 wells developed between 2009-2010, the same period covered in the wage-increase study.

2010 PA Wells Permitted and Developed

2009 PA Wells Permitted and Developed

Of course, the benefits of Marcellus development don’t end in Washington and Bradford Counties.  The Pittsburgh Business Journal examined other southwestern Pennsylvania counties that saw significant increases in wages.  It turns out the highest increases were in counties that had significant Marcellus Shale activity – confirming earlier findings that regions which produce domestic energy do better economically than those that do not.  In other parts of Pennsylvania:

  • Butler County saw a 4.17 percent increase to $40,711 to rank No. 108.
  • Fayette County saw a 3.51 percent increase to $32,675 to rank No. 201.
  • Westmoreland County saw a 2.93 percent increase to $37,315 to rank No. 330.
  • Allegheny County’s average wage per job rose 2.64 percent to $36,355 to rank No. 417.
  • Beaver County’s average wage per job increased 1.98 percent to $37,716 to

Some counties in northeastern Pennsylvania were also mentioned in the analysis on national wage growth. Specifically, Lycoming County, one of the more active areas in the northeast section of the Marcellus, saw a 4.25 percent increase in workers’ wages, ranking the county at 104th.  Trailing slightly behind is Susquehanna County, which saw a 2.47 percent increase in wages.

While New York has yet to approve natural gas development, it is no secret that the Empire State is already benefiting from the increased economic activity occurring south of the border in Pennsylvania.  This analysis showed that some residents of New York’s Southern Tier may have seen their paychecks increase as well.  According to the review, two of the top five wage growing counties in New York are Stueben and Chemung counties.  These counties saw increases of 9.42 percent and 5.97 percent respectively, placing them at 8th and 27th place among the top 100 in the nation.

This isn’t the first time the region is experiencing good economic news thanks to Marcellus Shale development.  Just last year, cities and counties in Pennsylvania with significant Marcellus Shale activity were declared national economic leaders.   At the same time, continued Marcellus development has collectively saved natural gas consumers in the region millions of dollars on their utility bills.

In a wrap-up, today’s analysis combined with last year’s economic data shows Marcellus Shale energy development is one of few economic activities in the nation that is not only increasing workers earnings but reducing costs for consumers and businesses at the same time.  Just another day at the office for the mighty Marcellus.

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