Pennsylvania Is In The Middle Of A Huge Energy Boom, And Yet Its Unemployment Rate Is Getting Worse

WikipediaUnemployment is up again in Pennsylvania.

The state’s energy boom has helped revive what would otherwise have been a moribund Rustbelt economy whose capital went bankrupt, sending the unemployment rate down 1.1 points in the span of a year

But the Keystone State saw its January rate rise 0.6 points YOY to 8.2 per cent, the most for any state that month.

What happened to all those drilling jobs?

Well, the sector is definitely not losing jobs, but they’ve stopped adding them, for now.

Here’s the chart for non-coal mining employment from the state’s centre for Workforce Information and Analysis.

PA WorkstatsJohn Hanger, an energy and utilities expert who’s also running for governor, says this is due natural gas prices having fallen 18 per cent between November and February.

But more broadly, he argues, Pennsylvania — population 12.7 million — cannot subsist on the approximately 100,000 direct and indirect jobs he says drillers have created.

“Pennsylvania is not North Dakota,” he told us by phone. “If your population is 600,000, and you’ve created 100,000 jobs, you’ve brought base prosperity. One hundred thousand in Pennsylvania is simply 2 per cent of all jobs. We need need economic development strategy to recognise that fact and stimulate the broader economy.”

The largest YOY unemployment increases were in construction (0.9 per cent) and government (0.4 per cent), according to state data.

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