Amid the continued debate on the correct description of the size and impact of the Marcellus Shale natural-gas-drilling industry on Pennsylvania's economy and employment, a question came up at the end of a recent conference call by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative.
The group of research organizations, including the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, tracks the impacts of shale drilling.
"More than 200,000 people are working in jobs created or made more prosperous and more secure by the vast wealth being tapped from our energy industry, including the Marcellus Shale gas play," Gov. Tom Corbett said in released remarks earlier this month.
The research group's report puts the job impact lower, and members explained the findings and methodologies.
At the end of the group's conference call came the question: Did they look at what jobs were going to local workers versus so-called imported labor?
"We've not seen definitive data on this issue," said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center.
Anecdotally, more jobs in Pennsylvania have been going to local people with the passage of time, he said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry doesn't have a mechanism to determine residency of people working in the applicable industries, spokeswoman Sara Goulet said via email.
It does have home addresses of individuals reported as new hires, but only about 60 percent are captured administratively, Goulet said.
Under federal law, a company can report all of its new hires to one state even if it operates in multiple states and the new hires are in more than one of those states, she said.
But based on the available figures, in the second quarter of this year, 58 percent of new hires in the six core industries related to shale were commonwealth residents versus 67 percent across all industries.
Core industries are as follows, according to the department:
• Crude petroleum and natural-gas extraction
• Natural-gas liquid extraction
• Drilling oil and gas wells
• Support activities for oil and gas operations
• Oil and gas pipeline and related structure
• Pipeline transportation of natural gas
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