Oil Industry Promises Jobs…Eventually

If you hear a number followed by a qualification — think about what that qualification means.

And if you’re the oil industry…fire your public relations people.

Barron’s has a pep rally story for conservatives, assuring right-leaning voters that America will overlook the growth in domestic oil production under the Obama administration and adopt Mitt Romney to make their oil-fueled dreams a reality. I guess if you don’t believe in evolution or dinosaurs there’s no reason to believe oil isn’t an infinite resource.

One of the hallmarks of the oil industry political pitch is that oil creates “jobs.” More oil production means somebody has to pump this stuff out of the ground…and participate in the clean-up of the eventual spill.

Unfortunately, at some point the oil industry is asked to enumerate those oil production jobs and that’s when they get in trouble. In the Barron’s piece this jobs projection is buried at the end of the article, and it’s not pretty (and remember that projections are always more optimistic than reality):

The industry is intent on making the president’s anti-oil record a major campaign issue. Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute, which is based in Washington, D.C., has been travelling around the country to “educate” voters about the costs of Obama’s policies. The API never before has waged an election-year issue campaign.

A genuine pro-oil policy, he says, would create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030, raise $800 billion in new tax revenue, and cut dependence on Middle Eastern oil. He likes to talk about high-school grads working on North Dakota’s Bakken Field who are making $90,000-per-year or more.

(emphasis added). 1.4 million jobs from increased oil production is a great number…”by 2030″ is not. To put this in context, the Obama administration has seen 4.2 million jobs created over the last 2 years. This means the oil industry would need to create 12.6 million oil production jobs by 2030 to just keep pace with the slow Obama recovery.

I’m actually shocked that a group as savvy as the oil industry allows the “by 2030” qualifier to get out there. It’s so much easier to say “1.4 million long term jobs” and kind of con people into not asking about the time frame.

In the meantime, here’s an infographic that puts the scope of energy job creation into perspective.


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