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Photo courtesy of Talisman Energy

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry estimates employment in the state of 232,000 people in 36 work lines related to exploration and production from the Marcellus Shale formation, the nation’s biggest-known natural gas reservoir.

Current employment is up by about 31,000 over the past four years, following the start of the Marcellus Shale boom.

Actual numbers could be substantially higher.

“[t]he Labor and Industry Department report does not include out-of-state businesses — say, Ohio and West Virginia companies that send pipeline or drilling services crews to Pennsylvania — and it does not include railroads, law firms, hotels, quarries or certain other lines of business that have handled rising demand because of the drilling boom,” the Express Times said.

The statistics counts six “core” industries that involve oil and gas extraction and pipelines, the report said. Then it counts 30 “ancillary” industries, including highway construction, metal making, laboratories, trucking, power plants and engineers.

Marcellus production is up to 12 billion cubic feet a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — equivalent of about 2 million barrels of oil a day, and more than six times the 2009 production rate, the Wall Street Journal said.

Pennsylvania now has more than 6,300 active wells and produces the majority of Marcellus Shale gas.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that the Marcellus Shale is having a positive employment, wage and income effect, particularly in the counties where it’s going on,” according to Tim Kelsey, a Penn State professor of agricultural economics and a co-director of the university’s Center for Economic and Community Development. “What is not clear exactly is how large those effects are.”