Reality Check on Ohio’s Natural Gas Boom

 

A new report* from the Department of Jobs and Family Services (JFS) shows that Ohio has gained 7,800 jobs since 2011 as a result of the fracking boom, but only 1,900 of these are in core industries, such as drilling and pipeline construction. The other 5,900 are in auxiliary activities, such as trucking. However, the report uses the total number of new trucking jobs in Ohio, not all of which are for hauling away fracking waste. Since new trucking jobs can include employees of FedEx, Budweiser, or Target, the 5,900 auxiliary fracking jobs are a maximum. So the JFS report should claim up to 7,800 new fracking jobs.

Even so, the job numbers in the JFS report are far short of expectation. The predicted 2013 job count in a widely-publicized 2012 report prepared by Cleveland State University for the Chamber of Commerce** was 40,606.  The reality is less than one-fifth of that number, probably far less.

A similar result holds for gas production. Using figures from the annual ODNR Ohio Oil and Gas Summary, natural-gas production in 2012 was only about seven percent higher than the average of the previous five years. The Chamber of Commerce report anticipated a 25 percent increase for that year.

Of course, any jobs are welcome in those areas of eastern Ohio where the gas fields lie. But the massive economic transformation talked about two years ago is not yet evident.

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*   Ohio Shale, Quarterly Economic Trends for Ohio Oil and Gas Industries

** A. R. Thomas, et al. An Analysis of the Economic Potential for Shale Formations in Ohio

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