PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — How many jobs is the shale gas industry creating?

Some doubters have scoffed at the industry’s claim that a quarter million jobs have come to Pennsylvania since drilling took off five and half years ago.

But those in the building trades — local plumbers, boiler makers, pipefitters and electricians — say the Marcellus Shale has been a godsend.

“I’ve actually used those words myself. It’s been a real blessing for our embers,” said Chris Petrone, of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

A new study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign puts definitive number of the building trade jobs generated directly or indirectly from Marcellus drilling.

Totaling the number of hours worked, the study states that some 45,000 new building trade jobs have been created in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia as a result of the boom.

“What this study reflects is what we’ve known, and the building trade unions have known, is that these jobs are being created locally and they’re good-paying, family-sustaining jobs paying good wages with health care,” said Travis Windle, of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The work has grown steadily since 2008 and now the trade unionists say they are an integral part of the safe development.

They say the work is always there when they’re riding the ups and down of the construction and building industry.

“Luckily, the Marcellus Shale has created a buffer for that so we can keep people employed throughout the year,” said Petrone.

The building trades are bullish on the future of the Marcellus, believing that shale gas development will be a steady and sustainable source of jobs for years to come.

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