The latest report from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services confirms what everyone living in eastern Ohio already knows: the development of the Utica Shale formation far underground is producing an economic boom.
Although the just-released information is, inexplicably, almost a year old, it tells a powerful story about what the discovery and extraction of natural resources can do. In the first quarter of 2012, jobs produced in the oil and gas industry increased 17 percent over jobs created in the same period in 2011. There were more than 5,800 jobs in core industries like pipeline construction and oil drilling and ancillary businesses like freight trucking and environmental consulting. Moreover, the jobs paid well: the core industry jobs averaged annual salaries of almost $74,000 and the ancillary industry jobs paid, on average, almost $59,000 a year. Equally important, these are jobs that won’t be moved overseas, and they will last as long as there is shale oil and gas to extract, which is expected to be decades.
Those good-paying jobs were created by private companies footing the bill to collect a commodity that has a proven market, without the need for government programs or government direction. If we want to grow our way out of our economic doldrums, we’d be well advised to pay attention to what is happening in eastern Ohio and in the Dakotas and letting private companies focus on finding, developing, and selling our natural resources — and employing our workers as they do so.