Shale Fuels Pa.’s Economic Resurgence

Throughout the entire Commonwealth, responsible shale development is fueling Pennsylvania’s economic revitalization. This clear fact is reflected, once again, in two new studies. Academics at both Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) examined shale’s broad economic benefits, including job creation, and the findings couldn’t be more encouraging.

Washington County – home to the first Marcellus Shale well a decade ago – remains at the center of Pennsylvania’s shale revolution. And W&J’s new study determines that responsible shale development in Washington County has had a staggering $2.4 billion economic impact, while supporting 10,000 good-paying jobs. The study – based on 2011-2013 data – also highlighted the more than $24 million in Pennsylvania’s special impact tax revenues that directly benefit the county’s many local communities.


Key W&J study findings:

  • The total labor force impact expanded from approximately 8,000 to more than 10,000, which is equivalent to 7% to 9% of total county employment.
  •  Total county economic output impact increased from approximately $1.7 billion to $2.4 billion, which represents 15% to nearly 20% of total county output during those years.
  •  Total state and local tax revenue impact increased from around $90 million to $160 million.
  •  The governments of Washington County and its municipalities received more than $24 million in impact fees and over $10 million in royalty and lease payments during 2011- 2013.
  • Total shale wells spudded during the three year period in Washington County represented 7.9%, 14.4%, and 18.2% of total wells spudded in Pennsylvania respectively, reflecting the growing role of Washington County in Pennsylvania’s shale resource development.

But shale’s positive economic progress isn’t limited to just Washington County. As a newly released PSU study finds, Williams’ proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline expansion project – which will safely transport clean-burning and affordable natural gas to consumers, manufacturers and other end-users – will create both long-term and immediate positive economic benefits.

Atlantic Sunrise

Here are the economic highlights:

  • Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project will have a $1.67 billion economic impact on Pennsylvania.
  • Construction of the pipeline will support 8,122 Pennsylvania jobs, including 2,373 direct construction jobs.
  • The project will generate nearly $50 million in state and federal tax revenue.

The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project joins numerous other regional midstream projects either planned or underway that are generating job-creating benefits for the commonwealth’s economy. In fact, in February, two studies were released highlighting the $4.2 billion economic impact of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline project and the $1.62 billion economic impact of the PennEast pipeline project.


  • Washington Co.’s Economic Growth is “Truly Exceptional”: Washington County’s economy, which has seen significant growth over the past several years, continued its pace in 2014, according to an annual economic update provided Thursday by county commissioners. … Commission Chairman Larry Maggi said the county attracted 111 economic development projects and $1.4 billion in capital investment last year. … Dr. Yongsheng Wang, associate professor of economics at Washington & Jefferson College, highlighted an economic impact study that found, between 2011 and 2013, the shale industry was responsible for contributing between 15 and 20 percent of the county’s total economic output. … “Washington County has been truly exceptional in the greater Pittsburgh region in creating new economic growth, energy development and commercial expansion,” [Democratic county commissioner Larry] Maggi said. “Our positive economic growth, new jobs and low taxes have many people in our country talking about Washington County” … He noted the energy sector was responsible for creating 1,762 jobs in the county last year, which led all eight counties in the region in that category, as tracked by the state Department of Labor & Industry. (Observer-Reporter, 3/12/15)
  • Shale Accounts for “15 percent to 20 percent” of Washington Co.’s Economic Output: There’s no denying that the natural gas business has had a big economic impact on Washington County. … Unconventional gas wells accounted for 15 percent to 20 percent of the county’s economic output during the study years and 7 percent to 9 percent of its employment, according to [W&J] economics professor Dr. Yongsheng Wang. … Wang said the economic impact comes not only directly from industry spending, but through other means, such as increased hotel and property tax revenue and impact fee spending. (Pittsburgh Business Times, 3/12/15)
  • Pipeline Project “Vital for Pa’s Economy”: Some $54 million in labor income would be created in [Lancaster] County, according to the [Penn State] study. When impacts from the project and workers ripple through the county, the total “value-added” impact would be $75.5 million, the study projects. Statewide, the study says the project would generate approximately $859 million in additional wages, revenues and investments to the regional and state economies. About 2,300 people would be hired in 10 Pennsylvania counties to build the pipeline. “Penn’s State’s report clearly shows how vital this project and others like it are for Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry. “We need to take advantage of all of our natural resources, and the best way to do that is through more gas infrastructure. The Atlantic Sunrise expansion to the Transco pipeline is projected to support thousands of jobs during construction and thousands more in the drilling and supply chain industries.” (LNP, 3/16/15)

Shale-related investments and projects like these continue to bolster Pennsylvania’s economy and our nation as a whole. Policymakers in Harrisburg should focus on growing jobs and finding more ways to harness our abundant natural gas resources, especially through boosting manufacturing – not even higher energy taxes which will make the Commonwealth even less competitive. Become a United Shale Advocate today and join tens of thousands of other Pennsylvanians in letting your voice be heard!