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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Hot Air and the Fracking Jobs Boom

Hot Air and the Fracking Jobs Boom

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 05:02

Most major news outlets have done pieces touting the jobs boom associated with fracking. The story goes that allowing this relatively new form of drilling will both lower energy prices in the United States and also lead to an employment boom in the regions where the drilling takes place. And, how do we know there will be a boom? Well, the industry said so.

It turns out that the employment boom ain't all it is cracked up to be. The environmental group, Food and Water Watch, released a report yesterday that examined job projections for New York, which is considering ending a ban on fracking. The industry had projected that fracking in western New York would create more than 60,000 new jobs. Food and Water watch looked at the experience in the adjacent Pennsylvania counties, which allow fracking, and concluded that the potential job gains for New York are one-tenth as large, or about 6,000. And, this is before taking account of any jobs that may be lost due to environmental damage (e.g. in tourism associated with fishing, hunting, and camping).

In short, for these counties there is not much of an issue of jobs versus the environment. The number of potential jobs at stake are relatively few and most are likely to go to people living outside the region in any case.

[Disclosure: The researcher for this report was my wife, Helene Jorgensen.]

Comments (7)Add Comment
Hot Air Increases Multiplier Effect of Fracking Jobs
written by izzatzo, November 16, 2011 5:24
Hot Air and the Fracking Jobs Boom

This was a good post by Baker describing how hot air can be pumped underground and stored in previously fracked spaces for future release of energy - right next to the carbon dioxide.

I liked it very much because it shows how win-win outcomes are possible when economic analyis is applied correctly.

Of course this proves industry claims for more jobs from fracking is too conservative. That's understandable since the industry never takes credit for such powerful positive externalities as it should.

After reading this post I have also told all my friends to stop giving hot air such a bad name. Do a cost-benefit test and see for yourself.

Stupid liberals.
Relatively few jobs?
written by Bill Turner, November 16, 2011 6:41
6000 jobs in rural counties having a relatively small population may seem quite large to those in those counties, and would likely have a big impact on the economics of the area. Certainly, there would be many fans in the area for adding so relatively few jobs (or relatively many, depending upon your viewpoint). This is the battle of local versus global optimization. When the global powers that be tamp down the local optimization, it creates anger in the region, and gives political parties (conservatives) ammunition. Unless there is greater offsetting harm to the local residents, and that harm is made clear, palpable, I do not see how it could be otherwise. Sadly, from my viewpoint, it means a degradation of support for the bigger causes that seem more important to me.
written by Kat, November 16, 2011 7:07
And, this is before taking account of any jobs that may be lost due to environmental damage (e.g. in tourism associated with fishing, hunting, and camping).
It is frustrating to me how much the effects on tourism are discounted in these debates. For me, western NY and Western Pa are two areas that we may drive to in less than a day and find decent hiking. We stay in locally owned motels. It has been depressing to see the wells going up and wonder if my days visiting these places are numbered. I have a hard time believing that my feelings and experiences are unique.
written by Ken, November 16, 2011 9:06
Our farm is in the Marcellus region of NY. So far there is no gas drilling near us. We sell beef wholesale mostly into NYC. Our largest customers have told us that they will no longer buy our beef if gas drilling comes to our region because of the clear risk of contamination of surface waters (ponds) and ground water (wells) leading to tainted meat. Our farm will be out of business if there is gas drilling near us. We have meat processors, hay makers, and truckers who are dependent on us for income. (Incidentally, they all oppose gas drilling). I anticipate large negative impact on upstate NY agriculture---which is our largest industry--and the supporting industries if gas drilling is permitted.
Where the F is bill turner now?
written by BT Mom, November 16, 2011 2:29
after a good post by Ken? oh, that is not enough bc we need FOX to tell us so....
written by Christian Mannhood, November 16, 2011 3:12

Yeah, the report doesn't even mention the permanent jobs created by fracking. Such as delivering drinking water to residents after the ground water is contaminated. Libs forget that this a permanent non-exportable jobs.
Bill Turner is here
written by Bill Turner, November 18, 2011 8:44
I don't understand the intent of BT Mom's question. I was merely pointing out the political pressures that exist in these areas, and pointing out that 6000 jobs is nothing to sneeze at in a rural county, that 6000 is large or small depending upon one's perspective. I am inferring from BT Mom's post that he/she believes that I derive my opinions from FOX and that my post was in direct opposition of Dean's. If my intent was not understood, then I did a poor job of communicating.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.