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Oil and Gas Boom Lifts U.S. Economy

Wall Street Journal (02/08/12) Russell Gold

The U.S. economy is enjoying the fruits of a new energy boom, adding about 158,500 new oil and gas jobs over the past five years, and even more jobs in companies supplying the energy industry and in the broader service industry. The use of new drilling techniques to tap oil and gas in shale rocks far underground has been a major factor in the boom. While lower prices already have slowed new drilling for natural gas, energy companies have shifted their spending to shale wells that will provide oil. Even if gas prices stay low, overall employment is expected to continue rising, says John Larson, an economist with IHS Consulting.

President Barack Obama recently cited an industry study finding that development of shale gas will create more than 100,000 jobs by the end of the decade. For every new job working in the oil and gas sector, another four are supported by the energy supply chain and by workers spending more money on goods and services, says Timothy Considine, an independent economist who has worked on estimating job creation in the natural resources sector.