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Natural Gas Starts a New Industrial Revolution

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted March 29, 2012

It’s a new record for North Dakota.

According to the latest data, the unemployment rate in Williston, North Dakota — and surrounding Williams County — is less than 1%, at 0.8%.

That’s the lowest rate ever recorded in the state.

Which means if you don’t have a job in Williams County right now, it’s because you don’t want to work.

In fact, according to economist Mark Perry of the Carpe Diem blog, the 0.8% unemployment rate in Williams County might be the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded "for the entire United States."

As you know, Williston sits on top of the monster Bakken shale oil formation.

And the current data and stories coming out of Williston are nothing short of astonishing...

Williston’s main airport, Sloulin Field, is one of the fastest-growing airports in the nation — and keeps adding new flights almost every month.

Just east of Williston is the city of Minot. According to a recent article by the Minot Daily News:

Minot's air travel numbers have been on the rise since 2009, much of it attributed to the oil boom.

Air travel out of Minot increased 63 percent and 85 percent, respectively, in January and February, Solsvig said.

"If that rate continues, we're going to break 220,000 easily this year for a building that was meant for 100,000 passengers a year and two airlines, so this is why we are fast-tracking every project that we're trying to do," Solsvig said.

And it’s not just North Dakota seeing a robust increase in air travel.

Stinson Municipal Airport, a 96-year-old airport in South San Antonio, Texas, is seeing major traffic growth due to the drilling boom in the Eagle Ford.

Coming back to the East Coast to the Marcellus, we see the same thing...

Williamsport, Pennsylvania, used to be best-known for housing the Little League World Series. Now it's known for Marcellus Shale drilling.

One natural gas well in Williamsport requires 77 tractor-trailer loads to transport equipment to the site. Other traffic comes from workers building pipelines and hauling water as waterlines are developed.

As a result of all this action, traffic on Williamsport's roads has increased 300%-400% since 2008.

Rail traffic has increased dramatically as well: The Lycoming Valley Railroad is about 38 miles long. In 2008, there were 80 carloads hauled on the line... that increased to 1,600 in 2009 and to 5,000 in 2010.

And last year? About 11,000 carloads carried supplies like fracking sand and drilling equipment.

Speaking of Pennsylvania, the Keystone State is expected to add nearly 600,000 new jobs by 2020, according to a Wells Fargo study.

Wells Fargo’s most realistic scenario projects Pennsylvania will add an additional 570,000 jobs by the end of 2020.

That's eight short years from now.

Of those jobs, approximately 100,000 will be created in what they call “primary shale” counties — counties where drilling is happening — and those jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to shale drilling.

Another 250,000 jobs (out of 470,000) in non-primary shale counties will be added by 2020 because of shale drilling, according to Wells Fargo.

An astonishing 60 percent of new jobs created in Pennsylvania over the next eight years will be directly or indirectly attributable to Marcellus Shale drilling.

Because of the drilling boom — and thanks to the tsunami of natural gas that has hit the market, driving the price down to a decade low — manufacturing has returned to the U.S... and it is booming.

Why?

Because the U.S. has the cheapest natural gas in the world.

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Take a look at this chart:

naturalgasfutures

This gives the U.S. an energy advantage over everyone else.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled "Steel Finds Sweet Spot in the Shale":

Low natural-gas prices represent a competitive advantage across the U.S. manufacturing base. The price of natural gas is $11.35 per million BTUs in northwest Europe and $15.9 in Japan, according to researcher Platts, compared with U.S. levels of $2.27.

Companies that had left the U.S. in sectors like chemicals and fertilizers are talking about coming back to take advantage of the low cost of gas.

And this is having a dramatic impact on the manufacturing base in the United States.

In fact, last year was a record profit year for American manufacturing.

According to a Census Bureau report on U.S. manufacturing:

After-tax profits for U.S. manufacturing corporations were just short of $600 billion in 2011, setting a new annual record.

The $598.3 billion of profits for American manufacturers last year represented an increase of more than 25% from the $477.7 billion in profits the previous year, and follow a 67% gain in 2010. In contrast, the after-tax profits for all U.S. corporations are on track to increase by less than 5% for 2011 based on data currently available through the third quarter of last year, following a 19% increase in 2010.  

Like a broken record, U.S. politicians talk every election cycle about American jobs lost to cheap overseas labor.

Well, here you go. The jobs are coming back, and they’re high-paying jobs...

Brought to you by the oil and gas industry.

The original bull on America,

Brian Hicks Signature

Brian Hicks

Brian is a founding member and President of Angel Publishing and investment director for the income and dividend newsletter The Wealth Advisory. He writes about general investment strategies for Wealth Daily and Energy & Capital. Known as the "original bull on America," Brian is also the author of the 2008 book, Profit from the Peak: The End of Oil and the Greatest Investment Event of the Century. In addition to writing about the economy, investments and politics, Brian is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox and countless radio shows. For more on Brian, take a look at his editor's page.


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