Three guesses which industry is showing persistently robust job creation

posted at 12:41 pm on May 18, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Since the start of their tenure, the Obama administration has fallen over itself in its efforts to create jobs — “shovel-ready” jobs, “clean-energy” jobs, government jobs — all of which were brought into existence because the government wanted them to work, not because the productive free market called for them. Strangely enough, President Obama seemed surprised when those shovel-ready jobs “weren’t as shovel-ready as we thought,” and when those green jobs cost taxpayers millions of dollars a pop. And, try as the Obama administration might to foil the oil and gas industry with scant permitting and an increasing regulatory load in order to help enforce their environmental vision, you just can’t keep a good industry down. Here’s a fun chart (via Environmental Trends, by way of Mark Perry):

In a nutshell, the overall U.S. economy has witnessed a net job loss since 2007, but the number of jobs in oil and gas extraction specifically has been moving right along — and imagine what that number might look like without the Obama administration’s various methods of hindering conventional energy production. However much President Obama cares to expound on the inherent virtue of clean energy, the fact is that government-funded green energy is where productive jobs go to die, while the employment trend in oil and gas is flourishing on its own.

This is precisely why it’s so frustrating when President Obama insists that measures such as issuing more drilling permits and approving the Keystone pipeline aren’t “silver bullets” with which we can immediately bring more oil online and lower gas prices (which, actually, isn’t quite true). It can indeed take some years for these projects start directly producing oil and gas, but greenlighting them can create gainful employment and economic growth, right now — for example, just check out the boomtown going on in North Dakota right now!

About 50 miles out on US 2, the telltales appear of North Dakota’s oil boom: modular homes for sale, “Drivers Wanted” billboards, and oil tanker after oil tanker. Just outside of Williston appear the “mancamps.” …

What brought them here was at least 3 billion barrels of oil in the shale buried deep under the ground and the technology needed to extract it — known as fracking. …

The result: unheard-of wages for able-bodied men willing to live and work in this modern Wild West. Got a commercial driver’s license? You can make six figures. Unskilled labor pulls in $18 an hour, and the job often includes lodging and all the mancamp food you can eat. That’s like making $70,000 a year — for unskilled labor. Kel, a driver for Flint Energy in his 50s, told me he spent only $60 in three weeks.


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