Among the 20 MSAs with the fastest earnings growth, the mining industry (including oil and gas extraction) contributed more than any other industry to earnings growth in Midland, Texas; Odessa, Texas; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania (in the Marcellus Shale region).
The rush is on, in Williamsport. While we squabble over the hyperbole and spin surrounding the Marcellus, a stunning transformation is taking place. Domestic chemical production is enjoying a renaissance:
Liveris, who cut 10,000 jobs during the recession, shut three ethylene plants in Louisiana as he hastened his plan to move chemical operations to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where gas prices were cheaper.U.S. chemical-industry employment fell to 782,000 from a peak of 1.1 million in 1981, Kevin Swift, chief economist for the American Chemistry Council, said in an interview. ...... U.S. exports of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC plastic, have tripled since 2006, said Paul Carrico, CEO of Georgia Gulf Corp. (GGC) More than 20 percent of plastics output was exported last year, double the level recorded before the recession, Swift said. U.S. chemical exports exceeded imports last year for the first time in a decade, he said.Shale gas has been a “game changer,” Swift said. “The U.S. has emerged as a low-cost producer of many of these products.”
Thanks to shale gas, the United States has gone from exporting jobs to exporting goods. That puts a magnifying glass on the political debate in Pennsylvania. The leadership isn't up to the task. The discourse management stinks. Luckily for industry, the environmentalists aren't much better.