CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An upswing in drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale gas field was reflected in a 20 percent jump in statewide oil and gas industry employment last year, a report from the Workforce West Virginia Investment Council shows.
From 2011 to 2012, oil and gas employment increased by 2,123 jobs, to total employment of 12,666, the report Wednesday to the legislative Joint Committee on Government and Finance states.
During the period, the average wage for oil and gas industry workers increased by nearly $5,500, to an annual average wage of $75,580 in 2012.
Average annual wages range from $110,355 for petroleum engineers to $27,464 for oil and gas rig roustabouts.
Employment in sectors supporting the oil and gas industry also grew in 2012, particularly in the oil and gas pipeline and storage tank construction sector. Employment in that sector grew 105 percent, from 2,021 jobs in 2011 to 3,941 in 2012. Average annual wages increased 13 percent, to $81,250.
Most of the oil and gas employment growth is in the Northern Panhandle and north-central West Virginia, where the bulk of the Marcellus Shale activity is occurring, the report notes.
Earlier Wednesday, Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said severance tax collections for the first three months of the 2013-14 fiscal year are up 53 percent compared to the same period in 2012.
He said the $36 million increase, from $67.5 million to $103.5 million, is primarily attributable to a 200 percent increase in natural gas severance tax collections.
Joint Committee members received the report Wednesday, but did not discuss it.
Also Wednesday, Workforce West Virginia acting executive director Russell Fry told the committee that the state Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund should finish 2013 with a balance of $97.6 million, down about $9.5 million from December 2012.