In The West, Natural-Resources Sector Job Gains Better Than Reported
Three Western states–North Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming are leading the pack when it comes to job growth in the natural resources sector, but is there still room for improvement? Job reports correcting a misconception that Colorado natural resources jobs were a drag on employment in the state recently came out showing higher jobs numbers for the sector.
“Employment in the [natural resources] sector, in which about eight of 10 jobs are linked to oil and gas, is now estimated at 25,400 rather than the 21,500 initially reported earlier this month, according to revisions based on second-quarter unemployment insurance reports released Wednesday,” as reported in the Denver Post.
Western Wire has previously covered jobs as it relates to the unlocked potential of the natural resources sector in the West, and earlier this month, the Williston Herald reported on the Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms’ testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee where he pointed to duplicative regulations and delayed processing are resulting in “lost jobs and missed royalty opportunities” in North Dakota.
Just yesterday, Western Wire’s coverage of a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the effects of delays from environmental regulation highlighted witness testimony coming out of the West, echoing Helms remarks. Mike Bridges, a union representative, told the committee that “significant permitting delays” under [National Environmental Policy Act] NEPA threatened billions in private capital investment and thousands of jobs.
Despite regulatory difficulties, coming fresh off of the heels of an industry downturn, the oil and gas sector is certainly making a healthy recovery in Colorado, bringing with it overall prosperity for the state’s economy.
The Denver Post’s report highlighted just how much of a turnaround the industry is making, given the corrected job numbers. “A 3.2 percent year-over-year decline, the largest drop of any sector in Colorado, is now an 11.4 percent increase, the largest increase of any sector,” they reported.
Subsequent reports out Wyoming from the Casper Star Tribune tell a story of similar improvement in the health of Wyoming’s natural-resources sector as “mining employment was up nearly 13 percent from last year’s September” Numbers.
In addition to correcting Colorado’s job statistics, the Denver Post reported on the strides North Dakota’s natural-resources employment has made, spiking by 23.4 percent, withWyoming up by “12.2 percent, on a seasonally unadjusted basis.”
In the 9th largest county in Colorado, the Greeley Tribune reported, “Weld County added 2,300 more jobs in the second quarter of this year than initially reported, proving to be one of the strongest-growing areas in the state, according to modified numbers released Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.”
Bad employment reporting in Colorado aside, Western consensus shows that regulations might be one of the roadblocks standing in the way of improved jobs numbers coming from not just the natural-resources sector, but also construction.