According to Huntington Bank’s Midwest Economic Index, nearly 60 percent of those living within shale exploration areas believe the rapidly growing industry will bring economic opportunity.
As shale exploration continues across the country, the hotly debated industry has gained those that praise the abundant resource and those that see it as an environmental liability. While both sides continue to validate their argument, the economic benefits are often hard to overlook, as the stretch of land from West Virginia to Michigan that is currently being explored could potentially be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“While many inside and outside of the energy industry are predicting growth, we wanted to find out how the residents of our markets perceive the potential economic impact of the industry on their communities ,” said Steve Steinour, chairman, president and CEO of Huntington Bank.
Much of the area being explored accounts for the Rust Belt, parts of the Midwest and Northeast that have suffered economically since manufacturing numbers began to decrease nearly 40-years-ago. ”With manufacturing growing again, and aggregate employment in these areas outpacing the national economic recovery, we prefer to call this swath of the country the Recovery Belt,” said Steinour, citing Ohio’s shrinking unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, a full percent below the national average.
Those that participated in Huntington’s Midwest Economic Index may agree with the predictions of analysts that believe the shale industry will produce hundreds of thousands of jobs, but another portion of the index revealed that less than 50 percent believed the economy would be better next year.