Lesson 10: Economic Impacts


Energy development is big business. Oil and gas companies, electric utilities and wind and solar power developers have been pouring many billions of dollars into energy infrastructure. States often act like they are competing with one another to lure energy-related companies to operate within their boundaries versus going to another state. Politicians of all stripes point towards the economic benefits of harvesting energy resources, whether those resources come from below the earth’s surface (oil and gas) or from the sun and sky.

Virtually all energy development, whether fossil or renewable, involves heavy industry. There will be economic benefits and economic costs to any particular project. In this portion of the course we’ll discuss some of these benefits and costs, and discuss in particular where claims of “job creation” come from, how to decode some of those claims, and some of the great myths of the economic development potential in the energy sector.

In addition to the material presented here, there are several studies of the economic impacts of energy development that are accessible to the public.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to: 

  • Identify the three types of workforce impacts associated with energy development, and describe the differences between each
  • Interpret the “multiplier” for economic impacts
  • Explain input-output modeling and identify some advantageous and disadvantageous aspects of this tool for calculating economic impacts

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson 10 Roadmap
To Read Will Keystone XL Pipeline Create 42,000 "New" Jobs? Will Keystone XL Pipeline Create 42,000 "New" Jobs?
To Do
  • Activity 1
  • Activity 2
  • Activity 3
  • Submission Location 1
  • Submission Location 2
  • Submission Location 3