Mighty Marcellus Continues Impressive Job Creation Streak Across the Commonwealth

Washington Co. #3 in Nation in Job Growth, Williamsport #7 Fastest Growing City; Growth En Route to Ohio

Canonsburg, Pa. – Did you know there are 3,141 counties in the United States? A large figure by any metric. But as high unemployment continues to persist across the nation, with nearly 14 million Americans still out of work, many of these communities are fighting for their economic survival. Yet in Pennsylvania, the responsible development of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale – the world’s second largest natural gas field in the world – continues to make staggering progress in economic growth and job creation.

In fact, new federal data released yesterday shows that Washington County – one of the most active clean-burning shale gas producing regions and home to the first Marcellus well – had the third highest percent increase in employment in the entire nation. According to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, only two other counties in the country demonstrated higher rates of job growth, by percentage, from March 2010 to March of this year. Washington County director of administration Scott Fergus tells the Associated Press that “most of the job growth there is tied to Marcellus Shale gas drilling.”

This positive growth – tied directly to the responsible development of American natural gas – isn’t unique to southwestern Pennsylvania. In Williamsport, Pa. – also one of the most active Marcellus production regions in the Commonwealth – similar economic growth is taking hold. The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis recently indicated that “Williamsport became the seventh fastest growing metropolitan area in the country in 2010,” as reported by the Sun-Gazette. Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana “attributed the high ranking to the Marcellus Shale and the gas industry feeding off of it.” This from the Sun-Gazette:

“We have a 7.8-percent growth rate,” Vince Matteo, chamber president and CEO, said. “The numbers are obvious. The driving rate is the Marcellus Shale.” Williamsport has the highest growth rate in Pennsylvania. The growth of the Williamsport metropolitan area is the largest in the Marcellus Shale rock formation area, Matteo said. “It’s validating, what we’ve been saying all this time,” Matteo said. “Without the Marcellus Shale, any growth would be a lot lower.”“The deeper in Marcellus Shale you go, the higher the growth rate,” Matteo said.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson — of Pennsylvania’s fightin’ fifth congressional district, home to much of the Marcellus Shale — underscores this astounding economic growth on Twitter today, writing: “Two of my counties have virtual zero percent unemployment thanks to the #marcellus #shale Help wanted signs everywhere & private sector!”

Washington, Lycoming and other Marcellus-producing county residents, as well as their elected officials and communities leaders, understand the economic and energy security potential of responsible American natural gas development. And as it turns out, so does the rest of the state. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll — by a margin of nearly two-to-one — Pennsylvanians continue to overwhelmingly support job-creating natural gas development in the Commonwealth. This from the poll:

Pennsylvania voters say 62 – 30 percent that the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale outweigh environmental concerns. Even Democrats back drilling 50 – 41 percent.

But this economic potential is not limited to Pennsylvania. Indeed, the responsible development of Ohio’s Utica Shale holds tremendous promise for the region and for our nation’s energy security. The Steubenville Herald-Star reports this yesterday under the headline “Utica formations living up to their advance billing”:

A study released last week by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, in fact, suggests that Utica development over the next four years will create or support more than 200,000 jobs and pump billions into the economy. “I’ve heard people use words like ‘transformation’ and ‘game-changer,” said Steve Forde, policy and communications director for the Canonsburg, Pa.-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, adding that the Upper Ohio Valley “has been blessed with very precious resource. “It’s a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us, doing it in a way that is sustainable from an economic standpoint, from an environmental standpoint and from an energy security standpoint.”

“We are going to have an abundant, cheap source of energy that will burn more cleanly than any other fossil fuel,” remarked Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley yesterday, the Tribune-Democrat reports. He’s absolutely right. And this historic opportunity – that we must get right – continues to be a clarion call for An American Renewal.