Economic Impacts of Marcellus Shale in Affected Counties

Posted: March 25, 2012

Potential economic impacts of Marcellus shale development has mainly been at the state level, but how much of the economic benefits stay locally within a county?

The economic development potential of Marcellus shale has been much debated in a variety of papers.  These studies mainly looked at the overall potential for the Commonwealth.  How do the individual counties where major natural gas development is occurring fare?   Researchers from Penn State Extension and Colorado State looked individually at five counties involved in gas development to see how employment and income within the counties were affected. 

It is important to know how much of the economic benefits stay local since that is where most of the direct costs of development are going to be found such as an influx of new workers, increases in traffic, increasing demands for services, greater demand for water and other natural resources, and more wear and tear on the infrastructure.  Due to the high specialization of the business, it is clear that many of the economic benefits of gas development occur outside of the counties where drilling is occurring.  For instance, drilling rigs are brought in rather than leased from local, county-based businesses.  However, from anecdotes, surveys and data reviewed, the money spent in these communities plays a significant role in the local economic impact.  Much of this is seen in the secondary businesses such as local construction, trucking, hotels, food service and other non-specialized services not unique to the industry. 

The studies done provide background on the drilling activity within each county, methodology used to estimate employment and income impacts, results, and a discussion on the findings.  The individual reports for Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming counties can be found here.

The study was compiled by the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center with external funding from the Central Bradford Progress Authority.