A recent report by the National Association of Counties (NACO) uncovered some very interesting discoveries regarding the nation’s economic recovery on both a state and county level.
Key takeaways from the report may demonstrate the essential role oil and natural gas has had on economic recovery in the U.S., and in preventing the recession from being felt in counties characterized by oil and gas production.
Counties Unaffected by the Recession:
According to NACO’s findings, the recession had no impact on dozens of counties throughout the U.S. These counties are highlighted by the darkest blue shading in the map below.
Furthermore, many of the counties that were adversely affected by the recession have already rebounded, as evidenced by the lighter blue shading in the map above.
As you can see, both of these categories are heavily concentrated in certain U.S. regions, are spread throughout the nation, and of course, are typically characterized by oil and gas production. For instance, look at all the blue in Texas and North Dakota.
Moreover, the study highlights that the majority of counties in the United States are still facing the aftermath of the recession and have a long way to go before they recover. Unfortunately, these struggling counties are not benefiting from America’s economic bright spot.
Booming Job Creation in Texas and North Dakota:
NACO’s report also highlighted some key findings that should come as no surprise to oil and gas proponents – Texas and North Dakota have experienced rapid job recovery and a more favorable unemployment rate.
In fact, North Dakota has the lowest state unemployment rate in the nation at 2.6 percent, with joblessness at its lowest levels since 2001. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in Texas has fallen to roughly 6.1 percent, the state’s lowest level since late 2008.
More than half of the county economies in Texas and North Dakota have also benefited from a more expedient recovery of jobs. This has created less fragile economic areas within these states, and an overall more robust state economy for their citizens.
Oil and Gas: An American Bright Spot
Although it seems likely that the oil and gas industry is the driving force behind this economic phenomenon, it’s important to highlight the sluggish economic recovery of counties in California.
This top oil and gas producing state had fewer than 20 percent of its counties recover lost jobs stemming from the recession.
So what makes California different? Is it a lack of similar shale production volume, or more importantly, the lack of a top shale play in the state? Or are the environmental concerns of state officials in California, and their consistent effort to further regulate unconventional production, the culprit?
Considering the fact that Texas and North Dakota officials embrace the economic benefits of oil and gas production, and both states are fortunate to have top shale plays within their boundaries, it seems likely that California’s struggles are a combination of lowered shale production and varying sub-cultural influences.
Either way, record oil and natural gas production from shale has certainly had its impacts on the local communities of Texas and North Dakota, and may have shielded many of the states’ constituents from the pains of the recession.