Over the past several years, we’ve seen a staggering level of job creation in Ohio counties where shale production is occurring. To find out just how much of an impact shale development has had, we took a look at nine counties that have formed the core of the Utica production region over the past four years: Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Jefferson, Mahoning, and Trumbull.
Looking at these counties, starting in January of 2010, the average unemployment rate was 14.8 percent. As of November 2014 that rate fell to five percent. That means that the unemployment rate in the “shale counties” counties fell by 9.8 percentage points, which represents a 66 percent decline in total unemployment since 2010. The shale county that has undoubtedly been the most active in Utica exploration is Carroll County, which has seen its unemployment rate fall from 16.1 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent today – an astounding drop of 72 percent.
Meanwhile, over that same period, the state of Ohio experienced a 5.6 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate, or a 53 percent decline since 2010. Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell by four percentage points, or 41 percent. Therefore, counties in Ohio that have been impacted by shale have seen unemployment drop by 13 percent more than the Ohio average and 15 percent more than the national average, indicating that economic activity in shale counties has created a much faster rate of job growth.
There’s absolutely no doubt that the over $22.5 billion invested by the oil and gas industry has had an impact on job creation. In fact, prior to this investment — looking back to 2005 — the vast majority of the counties analyzed consistently were above the national unemployment rates.
The jobs created in the shale region are union and non-union, directly and indirectly related to the industry, and they are undoubtedly very real. Here’s what some folks had to say about the industry’s impact on Ohio’s families:
“If the oil and gas industry left Ohio it would leave the area I live in drastically damaged. There was no work in my area to say the least, for a long time and now that this oil and gas has hit the region I live in, Harrison County, Ohio, it has changed the whole face of the economy. “– Tucker W., Ohio Operating Energizers, Local 18.
“If we lose the oil and gas industry, we lose thousands of jobs and every city we as operators visit, we pay back to that city by using their grocery stores, their gas stations, and help the local community by supporting them as much as we can.” — Dave S., Ohio Operating Energizers, Local 18.
“We’ve got a record number of apprentices, a record number of female apprentices.” — Jessica K., Ohio Operating Engineers, Local 18.
The message of prosperity for Ohioans is a trend that continues, thanks to shale development. As Ohio embraces the next phase of the exploration and production of Utica shale, and enters into the infrastructure building process — such as pipelines, compressor stations, cryogenic facilities, and ethylene crackers – it’s likely that the energy revolution in eastern Ohio will only continue to drive down unemployment, providing more job opportunities for working families throughout the region.