Indeed, lower prices already have slowed new drilling for natural gas, causing jobs and investment to shrink in some communities. But energy companies have shifted their spending to shale wells that will provide oil, leading to rapid growth elsewhere. Even if gas prices stay low, overall employment is expected to continue rising, says John Larson, an economist with IHS Consulting.
Government officials are highlighting rising energy production as a bright spot in a still fragile economy. During his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama said, “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper.” He cited an industry study finding that development of shale gas will create more than 100,000 jobs by the end of the decade. For every new job working in the oil and gas sector, another four are supported by the energy supply chain and by workers spending more money on goods and services, says Timothy Considine, an independent economist who has worked on estimating job creation in the natural resources sector.
Even state officials in New York, which has blocked shale-gas development until an environmental review is completed, say the economic boost would be considerable. “There is potentially a very significant economic upside,” says Joe Martens, the state’s environmental commissioner. “There’s an enormous job impact.”
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