Seeing beyond the Marcellus Shale employment numbers

State Department of Labor and Industry reports that the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry supports more than 200,000 jobs.

That’s the ad that Gov. Tom Corbett’s online site uses to show the positive economic impact of the industry on Pennsylvania.

Count on both the numbers and impact being questioned heavily during the coming year of gubernatorial campaigning.

Detractors will say that the 36 different lines of work that have a relationship to the Marcellus Shale exploration were already employing people before the exploration started. That’s true.

They will question how many of the people in those businesses are actually working in the Marcellus Shale area. That’s a fair debate.

For people living outside the region, skepticism of the industry’s economic impact comes naturally.

But if you live within the Marcellus Shale hotbed, your eyes tell you so much.

There are countless businesses in this region that existed before the industry arrived but they are thriving and growing now. The jobs increases in many cases are five or 10, not 50 or 100, but that matters a lot on a small business scale.

There has been an undeniable increase in the restaurant and lodging business volume, much of it resulting in heavy construction employment.

There has been an undeniable increase in the business activity involving trucking and gas industry supplies.

Moreover, all of this has been happening while the country was going through a tough economic recession and a painfully slow recovery.

We don’t want to know what this region’s economy would have been like in the past five years without the flourishing of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.