The economic benefits of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry are undeniable, and one of the most significant benefits is the fact that the industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in Oklahoma. That fact is demonstrated several ways in a recently released independent economic impact assessment of the oil and gas industry.
The oil and natural gas industry is responsible for sustained, long-term job growth in the state since 2002, and it’s poised again to provide more jobs as commodity prices begin their modest recovery and oil and gas drilling and investment increases in the SCOOP and STACK plays in Oklahoma.
Right now, about 18 percent of the state’s entire workforce is tied to the oil and natural gas industry. Almost 1 in 5 (424,800) wage and salary workers and self-employed proprietors in Oklahoma are employed directly or indirectly by the oil and gas sector.
Not only are these jobs important to local economies, they are also important to providing government services. Oil and gas firms and their employees paid $2.55 billion in state and local taxes in FY2015. The industry pays 22 percent of total state taxes, accounts for 13 percent of state household earnings and 17 percent of state gross domestic product.
Here are a few more facts that demonstrate how important the industry is to creating jobs and growing the state’s economy:
- Oil and gas-driven income gains have pushed Oklahoma’s state per-capita income to 95 percent of the U.S. average in recent years, up from 85 percent just a decade ago.
- Each new direct oil and gas job supports slightly more than two additional jobs statewide.
- An estimated $1.7 billion in oil and gas royalties were paid to Oklahomans in 2015. This has allowed small farms and businesses to grow, adding jobs along the way.
- In non-metro communities, the oi land gas industry accounts for 1 in 4 jobs. The energy industry creates growth and investment in urban and rural parts of Oklahoma, and oil and natural gas activity is having a transformative effect in many smaller, non-metro areas of the state.
- The Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry has played a significant role in providing jobs for returning military veterans. In fact, the American Petroleum Institute offers a Veterans Energy Pipeline specifically to connect returning veterans to oil and gas jobs. Oklahoma oil and gas firms provide special training and opportunities geared to employing returning veterans in the oil and natural gas industry.
- Average wages in the oil and gas sector ($104,000) are more than double the state average ($44,178).
Oil and gas continues to be the most important contributor to economic growth in Oklahoma. As prices start to rebound, the state is poised for additional oil and natural gas investment and job growth. Oklahomans are enjoying a range of economic benefits that include higher incomes, greater rural job growth and reduced energy costs.
That’s why our state must stay competitive in continuing the proper tax and regulatory policies that have allowed the oil and gas industry to be such an important contributor to the economy.