Shale Boomtowns: The Economic and Social Impacts of Gas Drilling

Some areas of Pennsylvania are ground-zero for natural gas drilling.

At recent forums in Pennsylvania, the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative has presented its findings from studies looking at how intense levels of drilling activity impact the communities that host them.

Facts about Shale Boomtowns

Download and Print a 1-page Fact Sheet on Shale Boomtowns (PDF)

Download and Print a 4-page Brochure on Shale Boomtown (PDF)

Shale Boomtown Trade-Offs

  • The Upside - Employment and income up in high-drilling activity counties.
  • The Downside - Higher rates of crime, sexually transmitted diseases, and traffic fatalities; increased housing costs and homelessness; boomtown communities ill-prepared for busts.


  • Jobs related to gas drilling make up only 0.4% of all PA jobs • Employment gains concentrated in the six highdrilling counties • No real shale-related job gains elsewhere


  • Violent crime increased by 17.7%, 130 more incidents of violent crime in high-drilling counties
  • Violent crime was down in non-drilling counties
  • Property crime increased by 10.8% in high-drilling counties
  • Drug abuse increased by 48%, all other counties saw increases by only half that amount
  • DUI offenses were up by 65% in high-drilling counties; up by 42% in rural non-drilling counties Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • All counties with drilling reported increases of 24% to 27% in the rate of chlamydia infection

Truck Accident Fatalities

  • Fatal truck accidents spiked by 499% in Bradford County and 99% in Susquehanna County


  • Rents increased between 7.6% and 12.3% in high-drilling counties
  • Tioga County rents doubled or tripled
  • Homelessness increased in Tioga and Greene counties
  • Fourfold increase in homeless Head Start families in Tioga County
  • Threefold increase in kids in foster care due to inadequate housing in Greene County Bust in Tioga County
  • Number of new wells drilled fell by 55% from 2011 to 2012
  • Below state unemployment rate 2010-11
  • Since 2012, unemployment rate again above state average

Research by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative: Keystone Research Center & PA Budget and Policy Center, Fiscal Policy Institute – New York, Policy Matters Ohio, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis – Virginia, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Resources from May 7, 2015 Forum in Bensalem, Pa.

View the PowerPoint presentation from the May 7, 2015 forum in Bensalem, Bucks County.

Shale Boomtowns Presentation

To learn more, view the full PowerPoint presentation.

PA Budget and Policy Center,
May 10, 2015, 8:35 PM
PA Budget and Policy Center,
May 19, 2015, 10:48 AM
PA Budget and Policy Center,
May 19, 2015, 10:47 AM