NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fracking Creates Big Benefits for Workers, Landowners, and America's Poor

February 9, 2015

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is fueling the current energy boom in America.  Combined with horizontal drilling, fracking has opened up previously unreachable energy reserves for exploitation, and the economic boon has been tremendous, writes Arthur Herman, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Taking Pennsylvania as an example, Herman notes that since 2002, 24,000 drilling jobs and 200,000 support jobs in construction, trucking and infrastructure have been created. In fact:

  • Those working in the industry are earning an average of $62,000, beating average state salary by more than $20,000. 
  • Fracking has brought $4 billion in investment to the state. 
  • Local landowners are seeing higher incomes from leasing their mineral rights to oil and gas companies.

Similar success stories can be heard in North Dakota, says Hermann, where some oilfield workers without college degrees are making $200,000 per year.  Because of fracking, North Dakota has the highest per capita income in the nation, with the exception of Washington, D.C.

Moreover, the economic benefits of fracking accrue not just to the workers in the oil and gas industry. Herman notes that many of the beneficiaries of the oil boom are the middle-class Americans who own resource-rich land, and selling or leasing those mineral rights can bring in extra income.  America's poor, who can spend up to a quarter of their incomes on energy, have also benefited from the fracking boom thanks to falling gasoline and electricity prices - since 2005, America's demand for imported oil has fallen by a staggering 40 percent. In fact, the drop in natural gas prices has saved poor families about $10 billion per year. 

Source: Arthur Herman, "The Liberal War on American Energy Independence," Hudson Institute, January 29, 2015. 


Browse more articles on Environment Issues