As I’ve discussed before, oil and gas drilling and production benefits Texas mineral owners, but also has a positive impact on the economy as a whole, especially in energy producing states like Texas. There are countless examples in recent years verifying that impact. For example, recently the Manhattan Institute published a report written by Mark P. Mills, a Senior Fellow and founder and CEO of Digital Power Group, entitled, “Where the Jobs Are: Small Businesses Unleash Energy Employment Boom”.
This report indicates that the energy boom, fueled by oil and gas drilling and production, is creating jobs at a faster rate than the economy overall and producing enough wealth by itself to stop a slide back into recession. The report notes that more than 400,000 jobs have been created in the oil and gas sector since 2003. Another two million indirect jobs have been created as well, in transportation, construction and information services in the new shale boom. Oil and gas jobs have grown by 40% since the recession. Other related sectors, like chemical production, manufacturing, steel production, and textiles have also been revitalized due to lower energy costs. In states with oil and gas resources, job creation has greatly outpaced the national average.
While this information is great news, the Manhattan Institute report highlights two key features of the growth that have not been publicized much so far. First, the new jobs are in diverse geographic areas. Sixteen different states have 150,000 or more direct oil and gas jobs. In addition, most of the new jobs aren’t for large oil companies or big multinationals but rather for small businesses. The average oil and gas industry employer has less than 15 employees. These small and medium size oil and gas companies are helping increase jobs not only in direct oil production, but across the economy. These jobs in oil and gas and related industries are also mostly middle-class jobs, not part time or low wage work. Another important point is that this growth reduces the U.S. trade deficit, which is a drag on the economy. Oil and gas produced domestically means less foreign oil and gas is imported, which lowers our trade deficit.
The report noted that the U.S. is the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of hydrocarbons. In fact, the U.S. has overtaken Russia as the biggest producer of gas.The International Energy Agency even predicts that by 2015, the U.S. will surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil production.
Almost one million Americans work for the oil and gas industry. The report estimates that 10 million more people are working in jobs related to the industry. The energy boom contributes $300 billion to $400 billion per year to the economy, without which the U.S. might have been stuck in an even deeper recession. The report fairly calls the oil and gas industry “the brightest corner of the economy”.
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