December 8, 2013

Regarding the Dec. 5 news article “U.S. energy-production boom isn’t pumping up the employment numbers”:

America’s oil and natural gas industry added jobs at a rate 40 times faster than did the overall economy between 2007 and 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Post may discount the indirect jobs of uniform companies, back-office services, truck drivers or pipefitters, but I doubt the people in those jobs do, and neither would the millions of unemployed Americans looking for work.

Just as the economic impact of the auto industry is not measured solely by tire production, focusing primarily on energy extraction misses the chain of economic activity that, in the case of the energy industry, has created a manufacturing renaissance. Businesses that were shedding jobs are now expanding, thanks to lower energy costs made possible by surging domestic production. A recent study by IHS projects nearly 400,000 manufacturing jobs will be supported by shale energy production by 2015. These are high-wage jobs, as are direct energy jobs that pay two and three times more than the national average; something to keep in mind the next time President Obama focuses on wage issues.

The significance of America’s energy revolution is not lost on economists or the 9.8 million workers whose jobs are supported by the industry.

John Felmy, Washington

The writer is chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute.

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