Job prospects take on oily sheen

The list of the fastest growing jobs in Michigan is dominated by one unlikely industry – petroleum.

Five of the six fastest-growing occupations are connected to petroleum and natural resource extraction through 2018, according to Bridge Magazine job projections based on federal data.

The projections assume the same kind of explosive growth in hydraulic fracturing that has occurred in states such as Pennsylvania, which has added 72,000 petroleum industry jobs since 2009.

“There’s a lot of hope,” said John Griffin, executive director of the Association of Petroleum Industries of Michigan. “We’re waiting to see.”
Companies are awaiting reports on a few test wells before diving into the business. “A lot of people are sitting back to see if it’s economical or non-economical,” Griffin said.

If hydraulic fracturing takes off in Michigan, the oil and gas industry is projected to grow dramatically. Geological and petroleum technicians are projected to grow by 45 percent; extraction workers, by 44 percent; oil and gas roustabouts by 43 percent; extraction helpers by 42 percent; and petroleum engineers by 40 percent. All those jobs pay well above the state average.

If reports on the test wells are negative, however, those jobs won’t materialize.

The oil and gas industry job projections demonstrate the uncertainty involved in work-force estimates.

“There are jobs in 2018 that aren’t even on the occupation list now,” said Larry Good, chairman of the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.  “There will be changes that are beyond our control.”

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