U.S. Oil And Natural Gas Led For New Energy Jobs in 2018
Jude Clemente, Contributor, Energy
A joint project from the National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Futures Initiative, the new must read for the American job market is out: The 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
With all time records being set for total Americans in the labor force, energy continues to outpace the other sectors in terms of new hires.
Our energy jobs boom begins with oil and natural gas, together supplying nearly 65% of all the energy that enables our $21 trillion economy.
As compared to 2017, U.S. crude oil and gas production boomed 16.3% and 12% respectively in 2018, so the jobs followed.
Making this even more impressive, oil prices collapsed 25% to $45 per barrel from beginning to end 2018, which lowers revenues and actually works to hamper new hires. Crude, however, has its best start to a year ever so far in 2019, with prices up 20% or so since the start of the year.
Our shale revolution is revitalizing the U.S. economy and making us more competitive in the global marketplace
As compared to 2017, U.S. gas production boomed by 12% in 2018 and crude output boomed by over 16%. DATA SOURCE: EIA; JTC
As seen below, the fuels production sector alone added 52,000 new jobs in 2018, a 5% gain for the year.
Now I must bore you with just a few mentions of the endless studies of the massive economic benefits of U.S. shale oil and gas since the industry took flight in 2008. Huge amounts of high paying, family supporting jobs continue to be created.
In 2015, Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group cited shale development as: "perhaps the single largest opportunity to improve the trajectory of the U.S. economy."
As it turns out, these leading researchers see American shale development as the real Green New Deal that some policymakers are pushing today, calling shale a "Win-Win Plan for the Economy, the Environment, and a Lower-Carbon, Cleaner-Energy Future."
Indeed, not needing the promises and billions of dollars in tax breaks that tens of U.S. cities offered to Amazon to get its new headquarters, Marcellus shale development in Pennsylvania, for instance, has already offered the state more than Bezo's HQ2 could have, with some "243,000 direct and spin-off jobs with a core-job average salary of $93,000" provided. A shale-based manufacturing boom in the region is coming next.
These are all solid jobs that require great skill and training. This explains why petroleum engineering is the highest paying major at U.S. universities, earning a whopping $175,000 annually, or 4.4 times more money than what a solar installer brings in.
For American shale, there is so much more to come as we focus on more production, deep electrification, plastics manufacturing, and exports.
From 2018-2035, IHS Markit reports that nearly 2 million new jobs will become available in the U.S. oil and gas business.
Oil and gas leading the new energy jobs in the U.S. DATA SOURCE: NASEO; JTC
As for electricity jobs, although many want to focus solely on wind and solar, it was natural gas that led for new U.S. power sector jobs in 2018.
Reliable, affordable, flexible, abundant, and clean, gas is increasingly our leading source of electricity. Gas now accounts for almost 35% of U.S. power generation, up from 20% when the shale revolution started in 2008. Gas is now a rising 45% of total U.S. generation capacity, accounting for 75% of new power capacity added in 2018.
Ultimately, what's past is prologue for U.S. electricity.
Very quietly, wind and solar will soon be bumping up against natural limitations that result from such high percentage growth for still maturing technologies. For example, the U.S. wind industry by 2021 will be reaching a turning point when it is forced to "spend more on operations and maintenance than it spends on installing new wind turbines."
Especially for utility-scale installations, new wind and solar capacity is restricted by large space requirements and a finite number of "good locations" that will cause renewables to slowdown a bit as they continue to rapidly expand out.
These are bigger obstacles than Green New Deal advocates grasp or care to admit.
New natural gas jobs continue to lead the U.S. power sector. DATA SOURCE: NASEO; JTC