Hot Air and the Fracking Jobs Boom

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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.]