Oil and gas keeping us going

07 21, 2014 by Houma Courier

The oil and gas industry is the backbone of Louisiana’s economy.

And nowhere is that more true than in south Louisiana, where so many of our businesses rely — directly or indirectly — on the industry.

To imagine oil and gas only as it supports companies, though, is to misunderstand its vital importance.

The industry that keeps the lights on and the engines running throughout the nation does keep many of our local businesses going.

But it does so much more. It also employs thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors.

It fills the coffers of our local governments, helping to pay for everything from street lights to teachers.

And that is just the primary impact. The true impact of the industry goes far beyond that. For instance, the workers who make their livings in oil and gas help to support nearly all the other companies, the retailers and restaurants that spring up and thrive throughout our region.

“There is no other place in the state of Louisiana, very few in the United States of America that has a closer contact with the oil and gas industry than this one,” economist Loren Scott told the South Central Industrial Association.

Scott was speaking at a meeting last week of business leaders. He told them — and most of them already knew — how incredibly deep the impact of oil and gas goes in our area.

Scott estimates that the industry directly employs 64,669 people in Louisiana with a total income of $5.9 billion per year.

In all, though, Scott said the industry generates nearly 300,000 jobs and almost $74 billion in sales. And that was last year alone.

The fact is that the oil and gas industry has fueled our economy for years. In recent years, it helped to insulate us from the economic chaos that afflicted much of the country.

People in Florida and California watched in horror as jobs disappeared, real estate values dropped and unemployment ballooned.

Here, there was another story entirely. Our real estate values remained strong and even gained ground. Our jobs picture slowed a bit but then returned with vigor — so much so that recent months have seen our local jobless numbers at or near the bottom for the entire nation.

The picture is so bright, in fact, that companies here are starting to wonder if there are and will be enough trained workers to fill the jobs they anticipate becoming available in the near future. That is certainly a good sign.

Challenges, however, do remain.

We have to be careful to put ourselves in position to take advantage of the incredible opportunities we will continue to receive.

We have to make sure our young people are getting the education and training that will give them the best chance to take the lucrative jobs that will be coming their way.

We also have to make sure our officials plan for the infrastructure that will soon be needed to service growing residential, commercial and industrial areas.

These are great times to live and work in south Louisiana. And we owe so much of that good fortune to the oil and gas industry that keeps fueling our economy.

Editorials represent the opinions of the newspaper, not of any individual.