Jobs Data Tough in Shale Industry

July 27, 2012

LISBON - The exact number of jobs being brought to the area by gas and oil companies is not easy to find. Those involved locally in job creation are seeing increases, but often landing the job requires some additional training.

A recent study by Kleinhenz & Associates, a Cleveland consulting firm, noted by 2015 there could be 204,000 jobs created in Ohio by Utica shale projects. These jobs are also estimated to have higher wages, with wages across the state increasing by $12 billion by 2015.

Other researchers have estimated lower, anticipating fewer of jobs and less money.

Amy Rutledge, Director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the estimates by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce was closer to 20,000 jobs, which is still a good number. She personally believes the Ohio Chamber was purposely conservative, and the real number of jobs will be somewhere in between.

Carroll County currently has seven of the 10 working wells in the state and the most permits have been issued there, Rutledge said. She believes Columbiana County is second in the number of permits. With the Utica Shale drilling starting there first, the impact will also be felt there first.

Larry Kosiba, director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center in Salem, said in our county the biggest increase so far has been with trucking companies needing drivers to haul equipment to the preliminary drilling sites. So far, most of those jobs have gone to truck drivers with a few years of experience, but as the industry grows he believes those currently receiving training at truck driving schools may be among those hired.

Kosiba is also seeing an increase in the number of machinists being sought to build or repair specialized equipment. However, he is unable to determine if those numbers are increasing due to the gas and oil industry or just improvement in the economy.

Gene Babik, the business services manager from the Columbiana-Mahoning County One Stop, sees an increase in the number of truck drivers being sought for both Class A and Class B licenses. Local companies are getting contracts in relation to the expanding industry, leaving them looking for additional welders and machinists.

Most of the more technical jobs are still going to those from outside the area. Seismic testing companies require people with very specialized degrees. Engineering firms also hire from colleges. Many of the people involved in those occupations will be hired by going directly to the company. Chesapeake Exploration's website lists many jobs as available. Kosiba said at a recent job fair held locally Chesapeake was looking for 100 people. But many of those jobs are also being advertised in other places.

Finding training is often as easy as looking at your local college or technical school's website. Kent State University is offering a management certificate in oil and gas projects and accounting. Youngstown State University earlier this year announced the creation of a natural gas and water institute as part of its College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Locally, the Columbiana County Career Center has increased the number of spaces for welding instruction. The Eastern Gateway Community College, which offers some classes in Lisbon, is also offering a ShaleNet program, to train local people for jobs in the industry.

Rutledge said in her area she sees a lot of the companies trying to hire local people. Unfortunately, a lot of people are eliminated from jobs because of an inability of passing a drug test.

Some of the jobs are just beginning to see increases.

While oil is taken from the drill site by tanker truck, Rutledge said natural gas is piped. The pipelines necessary to transport the gas from the well site to plants such as the one to be built in the Hanoverton area will mean additional jobs for surveying and those in the business of determining rights of way, pipe construction and laying, as well as highway construction and repairs. Rutledge said she sees contractors hiring local plumbers, electricians, masons and those who drill water wells. She also has seen an increase in security jobs, with people hired to protect the well sites.

Rutledge said it is impossible to know for sure how many local jobs are directly related to the gas and oil industry. When looking at the economic impact of Utica Shale drilling in the area, it could be important to look at both those being hired by the industry and those who provide services to the industry.

The Days Inn in Carrollton is full 90 percent of the time, Rutledge said. Recently, the company decided it was better to turn the conference room usually rented for events and weddings into additional suites and rooms. Kosiba notes at least two hotels are being considered in Salem.

While home sales are not increasing in Carroll County, Rutledge said realtors in her area have started rental divisions. Specialized people coming to the area to work on various gas and oil projects are looking for places to stay for a few months before moving on to the next place. Kosiba said he has heard of at least one place in the area where 30 to 40 manufactured homes are to be placed in a new neighborhood for those relocating to the area.

Those with property could consider selling or leasing the farming rights to local farmers. As farmland is being drilled, farmers still need to plant enough hay or grains for their livestock. Kosiba said he knows of at least one instance where a farmer approached someone about obtaining property. In Carroll County, Rutledge said large parcels of property, while still available, often no longer include mineral rights in the sale.

Besides housing, those working in the gas and oil industry need restaurants, car repairs and other services. Kosiba believes it is still too early to tell how far reaching the impact on jobs could be. He said he knows of a town in another state that went from 12,000, about the size of Salem, to 24,000 as the industry expanded into their area. That would mean additional needs for all public services, new home construction, additional police, teachers and hospital wings.

A woman in Carrollton has reportedly found a niche in her area, creating a business which handles day-to-day tasks for those working long hours in the gas and oil industry. Kosiba said the workers pay her to take their cars for repairs, shop for items they need as well as for gifts for family members back home and handle other appointments.



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