EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWV Employment Up But Questions Remain Where Workers Are From
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Oct. 28, 2013 5:28 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 29, 2013 9:40 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A state Commerce Department report said the Marcellus Shale Gas field has seen a 20 percent increase in jobs over the past year, and average wages have reached $75,000 a year.
The report does not say, however, where those workers call home, even though it is required by law to do so. The Commerce Department said it can't gather the data.
An industry representative said companies want to hire more West Virginians, but state residents need more training. A union leader said that is not the case, however.
"We're trying very, very hard, we have been for the last four or five years, to train within the state," Corky DeMarco of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association said. "We've got some kids whot we've lost because the industry was cyclical. It's not cyclical anymore."
Steve White, the director of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, said he did not think that was the case at all.
"I think we have the local workers trained, ready, willing and able to do the job, but it's about money. These companies, some of them coming out of the area want to bring in cheap labor," White said.
Whether natural gas workers live in West Virginia or are just visiting here because of their job, they have a positive economic impact. But White contends a local worker pumps six times the money back into the economy than someone from out-of-state.
"The biggest bang for the buck is from people who pay their mortgages, pay the food bills, buy the vehicles, local hiring," White said. "It's huge compared to the people who travel in and then leave and take their money with them."
Demarco asked, "Is it better to have somebody as a resident of the state? Certainly. But as a temporary resident of the state we're still benefiting."
White said the only way to get the information about where gas company workers live is from the industry itself. Natural gas companies have fought against releasing that data in the past.
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