The study revealed that the US energy sector grew nearly three times faster than the US economy as a whole in 2011. It found the jobs added in the sector paid an average of $100,000 a year. But Samantha Gross, co-author of the report, sounded a note of caution.
"Because energy is such an input to the economy, because energy prices make such a difference, you really have to balance your energy policy — thinking about things like employment, but also thinking about prices. Maximizing employment in the energy industry is not likely to be a good strategy for maximizing employment overall, if you end up with a strategy that increases energy prices."
Gross said the boom in shale gas production has the potential to boost US GDP 1% by 2015, due to lower natural gas prices. By contrast, she said, a sustained $10 increase in the price of oil can cut GDP half a percent over two years, costing 400,000 jobs.