Column: Putting Americans back to work must be job one for president-elect

The message is clear. President-elect Donald Trump’s “Job One” is to put people back to work.

Lack of jobs and employment opportunities exacerbated the plight of American workers since the Great Recession began in 2008. That deepening anxiety is a primary reason for this year’s political upheaval.

On Nov. 4, the U.S. Dept. of Labor reported the market continues to show signs of gradual strengthening, but analysts cautioned that the gains exclude some workers, including manufacturing and service workers who have lost jobs because of automation.

“We have this pool of long-term unemployed who are really struggling,” said Claire McKenna, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a labor advocacy group, in a Washington Post story.

The cumulative angst was enough to turn the industrial states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio to Republican “red” on Nov. 8. It sank Hillary Clinton.

United Auto Workers union leaders detected anger within the rank-and- file in the days before the election. UAW President Dennis Williams told the Wall Street Journal that he estimates a third or more UAW members voted for Trump.

Trump made lots of promises including imposing a punitive taxes to prevent companies from moving offshore, renegotiating “unfair” trade agreements, and cutting corporate taxes to bring manufacturing facilities back home.

Under the best circumstances, those promises take time and requires meticulous negotiations to fulfil. However, voters are not in a mood to wait.

There is a way to create jobs quickly, increase exports, cut household costs for families and bring in additional revenue for our communities, schools and country, but it will take a change of attitude about carbon-based fuels such as oil and natural gas.

Our country is blessed with an abundance of both and we have developed the advanced technology to safely extract and use them. In fact, fracking technology is converting our nation from an energy importer to an exporter.

We also have techniques to reduce carbon emissions — the lightning rod of the opposition.

Fracking is the process to unlock oil and gas from shale deposits and other tight formations deep underground. Through watery injections and horizontal drilling far below the groundwater table, we have unlocked enough oil and gas to become the world’s top oil and gas producer.

It is bringing good jobs and prosperity to towns across America.

Thanks to fracking along the “Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays,” Pennsylvania is now the third largest producer of natural gas in the nation.

The oil industry supports more than 300,000 jobs in the Keystone State and that number continues to grow. The industry has contributed more than $34 billion to the state’s economy.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, fracking supported 2.1 million jobs nationally in 2012 and could support 3.9 million by 2025. The energy surge made possible by fracking has produced household savings through lower natural gas prices estimated at $1,200 per household in 2012, an IHS-Global survey found.

API’s actual voter poll conducted on election night found that “American voters of all political stripes agreed that the country needs strong energy leadership to create jobs, lower fuel costs for consumers, enhance energy security and lower emissions.”

API learned 80 percent of voters support increased development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources.

In July, a Rystad Energy report shows the U.S. also has the largest oil reserves of any country on earth — more than Russia and Saudi Arabia so the prospects for long-term employment are good.

Hopefully, President Trump and Congress will find ways to add to our 9.2 million U.S. oil and gas industry jobs. They are family-wage jobs with good health care and other benefits.

n Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com

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