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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Amid Fracking Boom: Red Hot 'Man Camps' and Not Much Else

It sounded pretty good to recession-battered Ohioans far too used to double-digit unemployment rates: back in September 2011, oil and gas industry officials predicted that efforts to tap the Utica shale would result in more than 200,000 new jobs in four years. But as the Columbus Dispatch reports, three years after the first Utica drilling permit was issued, the most tangible signs of a shale boom are transient workers living in "man camps" (photo left of one in North Dakota). Even in the counties with the most drilling activity--including my home county of Harrison--the data shows much-increased sales tax revenue, but a red-hot labor market? Not so much. In the 4 counties with the most Utica shale well permits, the number of employed residents is smaller today than it was in 2007.

“The deep-down question people need to ask is, ‘With this activity that’s going on in the community, to what extent is it benefiting the community?’ said Tim Kelsey, an agricultural economist at Penn State University who has studied the effects of shale development on his state. “If it is non-local companies bringing in non-local supplies and non-local workers, then there isn’t much of an effect on the area.”  --B.B.

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