Does shale development help local communities or just out-of-state workers?

Shale development is creating new employment opportunities within communities and regions. A recent report by the American Gas Foundation and IHS CERA found the shale value chain supported 2.1 million jobs in 2012. These jobs are helping to support local communities on and off the well pad. More than 95 percent of Marcellus Shale workers are from the states that overlie it: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and New York. According to an analysis from Raymond James, almost 90 percent of the job growth in Pennsylvania between 2005 and 2012 was attributable to oil and gas development in the state.

Outside of direct jobs in the oil and natural gas industry, shale development has spurred other economic growth, including hotels, restaurants, shops and more. These businesses provide additional jobs and opportunities for the local workforce. Research from the University of Montana also showed that wage growth has even accrued to the local food-service industry: Near oil and gas development in Montana and North Dakota, wages went from below the statewide average before development took off to considerably above the average today. Hourly wages at fast food restaurants and Wal-Mart in Williston, N.D., are regularly pegged at more than $15 per hour.

More broadly, communities across the country are greatly benefiting from increased shale development. According to a recent report from IHS CERA, shale development has increased average household incomes by roughly $1,200, due mostly to lower energy costs made possible by natural gas. The projections show these savings could grow to $2,000 in 2015 and up to $3,500 in 2025. In addition, Mercator Energy recently reported that low-income Americans last year saved approximately $10 billion, or about three times the value of the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), as a result of the shale boom.

Communities surrounding shale plays are also experiencing an significant infusion of local tax revenue alongside massive new industry investment.  These revenues are helping to support communities and states, providing funding for much needed infrastructure like new roads and bridges, but also for schools and hospitals, among many other services. In Carroll County, Ohio, the county’s sales tax generated an additional $1 million in 2012 thanks in large part to development of the Utica Shale.

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