CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The number of oil and gas extraction jobs in West Virginia is up significantly, and the jobs are paying more than they used to, according to a WorkForce West Virginia report.
The number of oil and gas extraction jobs in West Virginia grew by 9.5 percent from 2008 to 2011, said Jeffrey Green, director of research, information and analysis for WorkForce West Virginia.
Those workers are making an average $8,100 more than they did in 2008, bumping the average annual wages to $70,082.
The reason is simple, Green told lawmakers Monday: the recent push for natural gas, particularly from Marcellus Shale.
"Though both industry sectors include oil and gas in their definition of activities, there can be no doubt the recent upswing in activity within the two can only be attributed to measurable activity in the Marcellus Shale gas field," states the report Green presented.
He said the growth was seen primarily in industries that prepare sites and build the infrastructure necessary to extract the resources.
In 2008 there were 1,276 people responsible for building pipelines, refineries and storage tanks, the report states. In 2011 the figure grew to 1,950, with averages wages increasing from $60,329 to $71,723.
Similar spikes were seen among businesses that survey or excavate the drilling sites. Those jobs jumped from 2,782 in 2008 to 3,793 in 2011, the report states. Average salaries climbed more than 28 percent, from more than $46,600 to nearly $60,000.
Green believes growth will continue for at least the next three years.