Voting with their feet
It has been more than a decade since the Renz Well began the Marcellus Shale play in Pennsylvania. It is at least marginally fair to start asking what the long term impacts of shale development will be on Pennsylvania.
Many have been expecting this seminal shift in long term growth for the regions supporting the bulk of shale development in Pennsylvania. Folks have been studying the potential impacts on everything from school enrollments, to housing, infrastructure and more that were all anticipated to come from the population gains. But what are the current population trends in the areas of Pennsylvania where shale development has been the most intense?
Looking at the latest data, here is the net domestic migration over most recent three years for the 10 counties. that are most active in the Marcellus Shale play in Pennsylvania. For sure, correlation does not imply causality. The shift toward more negative migration in most every county in this list is on par with statewide trends in Pennsylvania. Still, compared to the rapid and migration-driven population gains of other energy plays in the U.S., the latest data is sure lacking any evidence of similar trends in Pennsylvania. This is at least one datapoint saying that all this shale development does not insulate these counties from broader statewide trends.For most of these counties the turnaround has been dramatic. Migration gains in Bradford, Tioga, Lycoming and Fayette counties have become losses, while net migration decreased in 5 other counties among the top 10 shale counties. Only Armstrong county on this list had a higher net migration estimate in 2012-3 than it had two years earlier.
Finally, I'll point out many of these counties are not the largest of places. It would not take a large flow of new folks moving in to be noticeable in the numbers immediately.
Net Domestic Migration by County, 2011-2012 compared to 2012-2013
10 Top Counties in the Pennsylvania Shale Play (Source)