Opinion: Natural gas and oil industry’s impact felt throughout Ohio

May 27, 2021

Crain’s. Ohio jobs are natural gas and oil jobs. That’s the message I hope President Biden receives during his visit to Cleveland on Thursday, May 27.

Data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicates that the natural gas and oil industry employs more than 208,000 Ohioans. The average wage for workers employed directly by the natural gas and oil industry is $81,749. Contrast that with the average wage for all Ohio industries, which sits at $51,740.

An independent study by Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs revealed that shale-related natural gas and oil investment in Ohio totaled an estimated $90.6 billion from 2011 through June 2020.

These statistics show an industry providing well-paying jobs to hundreds of thousands of people across our state.

What does it mean in the real world?

It means engineers, welders, pipefitters, and other trades workers have a consistent stream of work. A reliable job to put food on the table for their families, roofs over their heads and spending money to use in their communities.

It means higher income tax revenues for local governments to pay for local services. Services like trash pickup to keep our streets clean, police officers to keep us safe and fire departments and paramedics to respond to emergencies.

It means disposable income available to be spent at local restaurants, shops and attractions. Money which those businesses then use to pay their employees and suppliers, generating additional jobs and tax revenues.

And that’s just the jobs directly in or supporting the oil and gas industry. Thousands of other Ohio jobs exist because of oil and gas products.

Consider Sherwin-Williams, for instance. They are one of Northeast Ohio’s largest companies and recently announced an estimated $600 million investment in Cleveland with a new corporate headquarters. Sherwin-Williams employs over 4,400 people in Northeast Ohio and generates nearly $10 billion in annual sales. All which is only possible because of the natural gas and oil industry.

Paints like those produced by Sherwin-Williams contain a variety of petrochemicals derived from natural gas and oil. When recent natural disasters in Texas disrupted the nation’s petrochemical sector, paint manufacturers actually had trouble keeping up with demand. They couldn’t get the natural gas and oil-based components they needed to make paint.

Sherwin-Williams is just one example of an Ohio company that depends on the natural gas and oil industry. Plastic, electronic and even solar panel manufacturers also depend on natural gas and oil. Carbon black and ethylene vinyl acetate sheets are derived from petroleum and are used in the production of electronics and solar panels respectively.

Sometimes you don’t know it’s there, but you would definitely notice if natural gas and oil were gone.

Natural gas and oil are directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs in our state and make millions of other jobs possible. A strong natural gas and oil industry is essential to life and essential to the economic success of Ohio and the country.

Brown is executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.

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