Study: 90% Of The 215,000 Energy Workers Laid Off Under Obama Still Unemployed

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Almost 90 percent of the oil and natural gas workers who lost their jobs during Obama’s tenure are still unemployed or left the sector for other industries, according to a new study by University of Houston.

Researchers estimate that a staggering 215,000 U.S. energy workers lost their jobs during the Obama administration due to strict regulations, slow permitting and low oil prices. Only 13 percent of those laid off were able to find work again in the oil and gas industry.

“A good number of people are lost to other industries,” Dr. Christiane Spitzmuller, the professor at the University of Houston who conducted the research, told The Houston Chronicle. “Oil and gas impacts just about everything here in all parts of our economy.”

Spitzmuller and other researchers surveyed 720 former employees of the oil and natural gas industry and found that only one-in-four unemployed energy workers found jobs in another industries after oil prices fell, meaning that most of the former employees are no longer working.

“Under the right economic and regulatory conditions, there still remains tremendous potential in America’s oil and natural gas industry,” Neal Kirby, a spokesperson for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “With the markets beginning to turn around and with rigs being added to the shale patch again, we anticipate companies will begin to hire back more hardworking men and women that help power our modern, energy-driven economy.”

Kirby noted that oil and natural gas development takes a long time to plan and implement. It can take as long as five years to go from an initial business plan to actual oil or natural gas production from a rig, requiring prospective companies to exercise caution and have access to accurate projections.

New oil and natural gas extraction methods using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” already created an estimated 1.7 million jobs and will likely create a total of 3.5 million by 2035, but Obama’s opposition to the process, and low oil prices more generally, are likely suppressing potential job creation.

If environmentalists had successfully banned fracking in 2017, an estimated 3.9 million jobs would instantly disappear due to indirect effects, rising to 14.8 million jobs lost by 2022, according a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Opening federal lands to natural gas, oil, and other drilling would create 2.7 million jobs and add $663 billion to the economy each year for the next 30 years, according to a new study published last December by Louisiana State University and the free market Institute for Energy Research (IER).  More than 75 percent of the jobs would be in high-wage, high-skill employment, and many would be “support” jobs outside the energy industry.

Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s (ANWR) oil reserves would create an estimated 736,000 new American jobs, according to economic analysis. Studies by industry groups estimate that offshore drilling would create 840,000 American jobs and nearly $200 billion in revenue for the government by 2035.

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