The official launch last week of Governor Tom Corbett's re-election campaign has generated another round of stories on employment generated by fracking in the Marcellus Shale. A low point in that coverage came when a Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry staffer claimed that a quarter-million jobs was a conservative estimate of the jobs impact:
Q: I know you have to be careful with your language about what this all means. But I hear the Corbett administration say there are approximately a quarter-million people benefiting from this industry with jobs. Is that correct?
A: I think in some respects it can be a conservative estimate.
Marc Levy at The Associated Press does a nice job setting the record straight:
It might sound good as a campaign claim, especially if you're trying to take credit for it: The Marcellus Shale natural gas industry supports more than 200,000 jobs, goes an online ad for Gov. Tom Corbett...
The problem is, it's an iffy claim for an energy sector that economists say is relatively small...
The Labor and Industry Department statistic counts six "core" industries that involve oil and gas extraction and pipelines. Over four years, those jobs grew by 17,414 to 28,155.
Then it counts 30 "ancillary" industries, including highway construction, metal making, laboratories, trucking, power plants and engineers. Over four years, those jobs grew by 13,352 to 203,814.
Tim Kelsey, a Penn State professor of agricultural economics and a co-director of the university's Center for Economic and Community Development, said an academic economist's very rough calculation of the job impact would be closer to multiplying by two the increase in core jobs - 17,414 - to get a figure of about 34,000 or 35,000. And that includes ripple effects, Kelsey said.