• Max Clark

Data Shows Salaries in PA Shale Gas Jobs Decline

Salaries for occupations in the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania are trending downward, according to data made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using data from 2016, the latest year provided, average salaries dropped by $1,187 since 2015, and by $12,647 since 2014.

Salary figures were collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). The QCEW provides quarterly counts of employment and wages from across the United States and covers about 98 percent of U.S. jobs. The data reflect wage figures from 2014 to 2016, the most recent year available from QCEW. Employment data for eight NAICS codes (industrial classifications used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) were used. The NAICS codes included:

211111- Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction 211112- Natural Gas Liquid Extraction 541360- Geophysical Surveying and Mapping Services 333132- Oil and Gas Field Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing 213111- Drilling Oil and Gas Wells 213112- Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations 237120- Oil and Gas Pipeline Construction 486210- Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas

The eight NAICS codes included in the analysis represent various aspects of shale gas development, from planning wells to constructing pipelines. Together, these codes reflect the core areas of shale gas development and associated employment.


The data reflects a decrease in annual salaries from 2014, which mirrors the trend for employment numbers in the shale gas industry. From 2014 to 2016, employment fell by nearly a thousand people. Employment and salaries are trending in opposite directions from production, which has steadily increased since the shale gas boom in 2008. In the shale gas industry, though, increased production does not always imply an increase in employment. In early periods of the shale gas boom, demand for workers increased as new wells were spudded. However, once a well is operational, demand for workers drops as the extraction phase of drilling requires less hands-on-rig than the drilling phase. The decrease in salaries correlates with the decrease in employees, but does not reflect the industry as a whole, as production continues to rise.

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