Twenty-six years ago, the video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller was broadcast for the first time. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. And here in the United States, unemployment peaked above 10%. That was in 1983.
Sound familiar? Twenty-six years later, Michael Jackson and Afghanistan are still making news. And last week, we learned that the nationwide jobless rate rose to 10.2%, the first time since 1983 that the country has seen double-digit unemployment.
It’s a sobering benchmark that highlights just how serious the country’s jobs crisis remains, and begs a closer consideration of the policies that got us here. At CEA, we talk often about balanced energy policy and the broad economic benefits of a steady supply of homegrown oil. We’ve talked less about specific jobs, but it’s worth emphasizing that expanded oil operations bring with them new jobs, many of them the kind of well-paying jobs that the country has lost as its manufacturing base has eroded.
In Florida, one of the many states now debating opening more offshore waters to oil exploration and development, it is estimated an expanded oil presence could create more than 13,000 jobs.
Have we mentioned North Carolina? Earlier this fall, that state’s governor set up a Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy that is reviewing the impact of new drilling projects along with offshore wind farms. You don’t hear a lot about North Carolina as a drilling destination, but advocates of expanded oil activity there estimate that more offshore exploration alone could bring in 6,700 new jobs.
It’s worth noting here that we’re all too familiar with the unfortunate term “drill baby drill,” which suggests a preference for drilling anytime, anywhere. That’s not something we’ve ever advocated. We support responsible drilling in regions that are deemed suitable for oil projects. But we also recognize that politics and special interests have too often gotten in the way of fair reviews into what constitutes suitable drilling destinations.
Now that the country is suffering the worst jobs crisis since the last days of disco and Soviet aggression, it appears people are taking a more reasonable look at domestic oil production and all the economic benefits it brings.