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Shale expected to bring jobs

February 17, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS , Salem News

Editor's note:?The Salem News is publishing a series of shale industry-related stories provided by our sister Ogden newspaper, the Tribune Chronicle in Warren. This is part five of the series.

STEUBENVILLE - Mike McGlumphy is the first to admit there are jobs to be had in Ohio's shale fields.

He's just not convinced there will be as many as some early estimates had suggested, particularly entry-level positions.

''In my case, I'm looking at 6,000 known (entry-level) jobs statewide, those are entry-level jobs companies told us they'd be hiring for,'' said McGlumphy, director of the Jefferson County Workforce Investment Act One-Stop Center. ''This was no scientific survey, just us picking up the phone and asking the companies, but I didn't know what else to do. We're just trying to get ahead of it, and that was the best way to do it.''

Competing studies, one by an Ohio State University economics professor, the other commissioned by the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program, or OOGEEP, offer widely disparate projections. OOGEEP's study, conducted by Cleveland research firm Kleinhenz & Associates, predicts more than 204,000 jobs, direct and indirect, will be created by the shale drilling boom; the Ohio State study, however, pegs the number at around 20,000.

''I think, to be realistic, it will be somewhere between (those two), said Laura Jones, communications director for JobsOhio. ''But it's hard to say. We like to look at all the studies because more information is always better.''

Jones said the best indicator is probably to look at areas like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where shale drilling is more advanced. ''I think we have to look at what's going on there, they're farther into the process than we are.''

The numbers out of Pennsylvania are encouraging. Fact sheets compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor show strong job growth across the commonwealth in drilling and ancillary industries. The strongest gains (1,928 jobs) are in the Northern Tier (Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming counties) where drilling activity is strongest over a three-year period beginning with the second quarter of 2008.

Drawing on data compiled between the third quarter of 2010 through the same quarter in 2011, the state also pegged the average wage in the core drilling industries at $76,918 and the average wage in ancillary industries at $63,155, both significantly higher than the average across all industries ($46,559).

Officials in nearby Shale hotspot Washington County, Pa., say the numbers don't lie.

''I can think of no greater statistic on the impact of Marcellus Shale in Washington County than back in October, the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Washington County as No. 3 in the nation in terms of employment growth,'' said Jeff Kotula, director of the Washington County Economic Development Partnership.

And West Virginia University researcher Tom S. Witt said Marcellus development created 7,600 jobs and generated $2.35 billion in business volume in the Mountain State in 2009 alone.

Witt, director of WVU's Bureau of business and Economic Research and co-author of a study examining the impact of the shale play on the Mountain State, said the potential exists ''for upwards of nearly 20,000 jobs by 2015 if drilling grows at a 20 percent rate each year.''

Dan Alfaro, communications director for Energy In Depth-Ohio, said shale jobs to date show every promise of living up to the hype.

''This is the opportunity of generations, and we're still in the regional development stage,'' he said, suggesting the Buckeye State has already reached the 20,000 benchmark. ''We're at the very onset of this, and we're already starting to see thousands of jobs and investment ... we're seeing a resurgence in steel industry in Youngstown because of this, we haven't seen that in years, and it's just started.''

But McGlumphy points to an OOGEEP report identifying 70 occupations the oil and gas industry will need in the field jobs ranging from derrick hands, equipment operators and facility operators to floor hands, pump operators, pumpers, roustabouts and welders.

Of the 70 occupations, McGlumphy said 57 require an associate degree or better.

''That leaves just 13 positions, and about 10 of those require credentials - Class A CDLs, heavy equipment certifications, welding certifications, water certifications. That leaves basically three entry-level occupations that require high school degrees or the equivalent,'' McGlumphy said.



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