Studies Show Industry Offers Better Jobs, Greater Opportunity
Posted July 17, 2020
Some lawmakers have proposed putting hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in clean energy jobs while moving the U.S. away from natural gas and oil and, presumably, from the jobs our industry supports.
Somebody should check to see if that’s what working men and women want.
Two new studies released this week by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) show that workers appreciate jobs in natural gas and oil over “green-collar” jobs – because they pay better, last longer and provide greater opportunities. Sean McGarvey, NABTU president:
“The findings outlined in these reports demonstrate that today’s oil and natural gas jobs are better for energy construction workers across the country in both the short and long term. The research confirms what our members tell us: the career opportunities for renewables are nowhere near what they are in gas and oil, and domestic energy workers highly value the safety, reliable duration and compensation of oil and gas construction jobs.”
The fact is natural gas and oil will remain critical to the U.S. energy mix for decades to come, and Americans should reject the oft-presented false choice between energy production and environmental protection. Our industry already plays a big role in reducing global emissions, while providing high-paying jobs for U.S. workers and enabling renewable energy expansion.
U.S. energy companies are already preparing for future growth and innovation by investing in a resilient workforce of scientists, engineers and skilled laborers – increasingly sought-after careers, according to the NABTU studies.
The first report, “Perspectives and Comparisons of Job Quality Across the U.S. Energy Industries,” found both union and non-union employees agree that working in natural gas and oil is attractive in the short and long term, offering stability in uncertain economic conditions.
Energy construction workers say that they consider jobs in natural gas and oil to have better wages and benefits, and that the jobs generally involve projects with longer durations than those in renewable industries – meaning steadier and more consistent incomes.
Modern and mature natural gas and oil infrastructure also allows skilled laborers to work in the energy sector while minimizing their daily commutes. By offering employment within a reasonable driving distance from their homes, the natural gas and oil industry gives its workers the flexibility needed to care for their families and achieve an appropriate work-life balance.
Additionally, energy sector jobs deliver a reliable pathway to the middle class for Americans without a college education because registered apprenticeships are a primary training program for natural gas and oil tradespeople.
In a second study, "The Quality of Jobs in Construction and Oil-and-Gas for High School Graduates," University of Utah economist Peter Phillips found that relative to other high school graduates with no college degree, those in natural gas, oil and construction are paid better and receive more health insurance and pension coverage. Phillips concluded that “the road to a productive and rewarding career need not go through college,” noting that high school graduates represent 45% of all employees in the energy and construction industries.
Despite the promise of “green-collar” job creation, the benefits to actual workers is clear. The natural gas and oil sector offers steady, good-paying careers for all Americans, and as we prepare for the future of energy, the industry is focused on strengthening the workforce pipeline and investing resources in employment opportunities.
As the industry adapts to challenging circumstances and positions itself to power the nation’s upcoming economic recovery, energy operators will continue to enable both economic growth and emissions reductions, while providing excellent job prospects for the skilled workers who drive American innovation and advance our energy security.
About The Author
Sam Winstel is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. He comes to API from Edelman, where he supported communications marketing strategies for clients across the firm’s energy and federal government practices. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sam graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina, and he currently resides in Washington, D.C.