A Rust Belt industrial “boom” spurred by new energy production is the focus of a front-page story in today’s New York Times — highlighting, once again, the sort of growth upstate New York is not experiencing while Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to stall the issuance of regulations allowing hydraulic fracturing to produce shale gas.
The benefits of gas production have included a reinvigoration of Ohio’s moribund steel industry, the Times reports:
Vallourec, a French industrial giant, recently completed a million-square-foot plant in Youngstown to make steel pipes for the energy industry, the first mill of its kind to open here in 50 years. The facility, which cost $1.1 billion to build, will be joined next year by a smaller $80 million Vallourec plant making pipe connectors.
The change is evident in the once-moribund downtowns of northeastern Ohio cities as well as in the economic data for the state as a whole.
“Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years,” said Ned Hill, a professor of economic development at Cleveland State University. Now, “they’re not ghost towns anymore. You actually have to go into reverse to find a parking spot downtown.”
The gains haven’t been limited to blue-collar factory or retail jobs. The Times story cites gains for white collar workers such as lawyers in Cleveland and engineers, surveyors and other specialists in Canton — the kind of boost that (currently depressed) Syracuse might enjoy if the state allowed energy companies to tap the rich Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale deposits beneath the Southern Tier.
The ripple effects of energy production, which began in Ohio in a big way in just the past four years, are further illustrated by the following chart of manufacturing employment trends in Ohio, compared to New York. Since 2009, Ohio has gained 67,000 manufacturing jobs, a growth rate of 11 percent, while New York has lost 22,000 manufacturing jobs, a drop of 4.7 percent.
Ironically, Cuomo’s slow-walking of New York’s hydro-fracking regs hasn’t helped him much with many of the environmentalists it was meant to placate. The governor is fending off a Democratic primary challenge today from a left-wing candidate who faults him for, among other things, not imposing an outright, permanent ban on fracking.