Extracting oil and gas safely and responsibly has left Eastern Ohio with the great fortune of employment opportunities. This is largely in thanks to the huge deposits of shale rock formation that sit beneath much of the eastern half of the state. The shale gas industry is creating new jobs and helping to restore economic prosperity to much of Eastern Ohio. This has not always been the case, look back a few years and many of these areas were struggling.
Spanning some of the highest unemployment rates in 2011, Ohio saw an annual average unemployment rate of 9.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted)—ranking it in the lower third of highest unemployment rates in the United States. Many Eastern Ohio areas saw unemployment rates in double digits, well above the state average. The shale revolution started to take off around this time and the level of unemployment in Ohio’s struggling Eastern region started to shrink, significantly.
Look ahead to November 2014, and Ohio’s unemployment rate fell below 5 percent. The state, as a whole, is on an economic upswing, seeing the lowest rates in 13 years. It is expected to see improvement in all areas, but some of the areas with the highest unemployment have managed to bounce back, exceedingly well. With the shale revolution and oil and gas jobs becoming available, the Eastern Ohio counties hit hardest by unemployment have surpassed the Ohio average unemployment rate (data from Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Labor Market Information).
Eastern Ohio unemployment percentage rates, June 2011 compared to November 2014:
The US Department of Labor provides statistics of unemployment from June 2011 to November 2014 by metropolitan area; also reflecting Ohio areas with oil and gas activity seeing significant decreases in unemployment. For example, Canton-Massillon was at a 10 percent unemployment rate (above the state average 9.2 percent) and dropped by 5.5 percent in 2014. Another region impacted by shale development, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area; saw a 9.7 percent unemployment rate in 2011, which dropped by 4.7 percent in 2014, below the state average.
Aaron Dodds, Economic Development Director of Carroll County said in the Youngstown Business Journal, “The impact over the last three years is clearly transformative. Farmers who once struggled have now paid off their debts, preventing foreclosures or sales of their assets. Cash flows at a rate never before experienced in the history of the county. Equipment dealerships, restaurants, service businesses flourish; manufacturers have moved into the area; and new construction is visible along the major business corridor in Carrollton. People are starting to spend money, no longer waiting for a knock on the door with someone saying they want their check back.”
As we ended 2014, Ohio doubled the number of horizontal shale wells in the state over the course of the year—with 650 shale wells in 2013, reaching 1,300 wells to end 2014, concentrated in the eastern part of the state. As the industry is starting to mature in Ohio, 2015 is expected to bring an investment in processing facilities and pipelines to create a more efficient means of transporting Ohio’s resource. Ohio manufacturing and shale-drilling jobs will continue to increase in 2015, as constructing this infrastructure will surely secure jobs for many years to come.