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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fracking Isn't Solving Northeast Ohio's Job Woes

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 10:50 AM

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Following a Reuters dispatch and a Cleveland State University study, analysis of Northeast Ohio's burgeoning natural gas and oil drilling sector show that it's booming.

For manufacturers and fat cats at the top of the food chain, that is.

The hydraulic fracturing and drilling procedure - "fracking," colloquially - isn't spurring job creation the way Ohio's leaders may have marketed it in the past. A quick illustration: The $1.1-billion Vallourec Star steel pipe mill in Youngstown will employ 350 workers. Contrast that groundswell of jobs, jobs, jobs with RG Steel's 1,000 workers, back when that plant was located in the same location region as Vallourec Star is currently.

Here's Gov. John Kasich's spokesman, Rob Nichols, in late 2011:

"Over the next four years, shale is expected to create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio and bring in nearly half a billion dollars in additional revenue to the state," he said. "While the governor has warned the industry that they better play by our environmental rules and regulations, we are glad to have the support of an industry that is poised to reinvigorate Ohio's economy and put a whole bunch of Ohioans back to work."

Just this past March, in fact, CSU determined that "[e]mployment growth in strong shale counties is not yet evident." ("Strong shale counties" refer to Ashtabula, Belmont, Coshocton, Geauga, Portage, Stark, Trumbull and others to the south and east of Cleveland.) The study does cite outside investment and increased sales activity as boons to local economies.

In other words, response to fracking in Ohio is a mixed bag, depending on whether you're talking with a local business leader or a local resident looking for work.

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