NEW YORK (Reuters) - A booming U.S. oil and gas sector was responsible for generating some 9 percent of all new jobs last year, with three indirect jobs for every one directly involved in the industry, a study released on Wednesday found.
The World Economic Forum report, which highlighted the role that the energy industry can play in reviving the global economy, comes during a presidential election year as candidates argue about high U.S. unemployment and energy policy.
The report said the oil and gas industry contributed 37,000 direct jobs in 2011, which led to the creation of an additional 111,000 indirect jobs during the same period. It said the multiplier effect for solar and wind energy were lower during operation, but higher at up to 3.3 times during construction.
“We always suspected that energy had a vital role to play in the economic recovery but we were still surprised when the data uncovered the magnitude of the sector’s multiplier effects,” Roberto Bocca, head of energy Industries at the World Economic Forum, said in a release.
The domestic U.S. oil and gas industry is in the midst of the its biggest boom in a generation, with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology unlocking billions of barrels of oil and decades’ worth of natural gas from previously untappable tight coal seam fissures.
That has ignited a political debate between environmentalists who caution against the impact of “fracking” on water supplies and industry supporters who say the shale oil revolution is helping revive the U.S. economy.
The WEF report also said the energy sector’s highly skilled workforce is well-paid compared to other sectors, with compensation per worker about twice the average in Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States and four times the average in Mexico and South Korea.
Reporting By Jonathan Leff