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Pennsylvania fracking-related jobs numbers questioned

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Tom CorbettFacing a daunting re-election year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has been touting his all-out support for natural gas drilling as a job creator in his state.

But economists and environmentalists are questioning Corbett’s claim that the industry props up more than 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs. They say that the governor’s administration has greatly inflated the number, and that it may be getting lower every day.

A new analysis by the Allentown Morning Call newspaper and published Monday indicates that the core number of jobs associated with drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale – one of the country’s main areas for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – fell by 29 percent to just under 30,000 jobs between 2010 and 2013.

Industry supporters say that the decline is a temporary fluctuation, and that ancillary jobs created and supported by shale gas development – including careers in trucking, engineering and construction – boost the number to more than 200,000.

But as Corbett continues to support natural gas development in his bid for reelection, those jobs numbers have come under more scrutiny. Activists and economists say that while there is no doubt natural gas has contributed to the state’s economy, it is likely the practice’s impact has been exaggerated, perhaps for political gain.

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