The Wall Street Journal Hacked Our Voicemail!

OK, I'm kidding! Well, as far as we know The Wall Street Journal didn't hack into our voicemail. 

What the Journal did do, however, was badly mangle job numbers in an editorial pitch aimed at convincing New Yorkers to support Marcellus Shale extraction in the Empire State. In praising Pennsylvania’s cultivation of the industry, the Journal wrote:

The state [Pennsylvania] Department of Labor and Industry reports that Marcellus drilling has created 72,000 jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011.

Once again:

Less than 10,000 Pennsylvania jobs have been created in Marcellus industries since the end of 2007, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The Journal has confused “new hires” with “new jobs” and made the inaccurate claim that 72,000 new Marcellus jobs had been created. "New hires" and "new jobs" are not the same; most new hires replace people who quit, were fired or retired.

To put the 72,000 new hires figure in perspective, there were 2.8 million new hires in all Pennsylvania industries during the same time period. Few people believe Pennsylvania has created that many new jobs in recent years.

In citing the 72,000 figure, the Journal also had to ignore the following note in the Department of Labor and Industry publication that contained the Marcellus Shale "new hires" data (see the bottom of page 12):

Note: In every economy there is job creation and job destruction every month and the result is employment change. New hires are linked to job creation, however, an increase in new hires does not directly equate to an increase in the total employment count. The new hires count is simply an indication of hiring activity in an industry.  Separations, in the form of initial claims (layoffs) or quits, are linked to job destruction and account for the other half of the employment change equation. The balance of hires and separations result in the employment change.

New jobs created by Marcellus drilling are welcome, but any policy debate around drilling should begin with accurate information, not uninformed cheerleading for the industry.

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