Keystone XL Construction Jobs: President Trump’s Inflated Estimate

President Donald Trump moved to revive the Keystone XL pipeline after it had been scraped by the previous Obama administration during their second term. The Obama administration often low-balled the numbers of jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline but now, President Trump’s administration has blown up the numbers.

The White House Spokesman neglected to confirm the origin of the estimates so we looked at a thorough estimate from the U.S State Department. The Keystone XL is a construction project, meaning jobs created are provisional jobs lasting about nineteen and a half weeks– those related directly to construction. They involve assembling the pipeline that would transport crude oil from Alberta province in Canada to the Gulf Coast over two seasons. Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota would benefit directly, with each state hiring somewhere between 2,700 to 4,000 workers with Kansas requiring about 200 construction workers.

For an average of 5 months, 4,000 construction workers in Montana translate to about 1,462 workers. In South Dakota, for an average of 5 months, 3,500 workers translate to 1,346 construction workers. In Nebraska, 2,700 workers working for an average of 5 months translate to 1,013 construction workers, and lastly, in Kansas, 200 workers working for an average of five months translate to 129 construction workers. The state department decided to show this as an annual figure considering the difficulty calculating how long the jobs would last. Which means the 4,000 jobs in Montana in an average of 19 weeks translate to 1,500 jobs annually.

With each position being filled for a full year—although none of them will last a full year, the 10,400 workers working for a period of 4 months or 8 months translate to 3,900 construction jobs according to a report by the State Department. Additionally, the State Department calculated about 12,000 additional annual jobs that would arise from direct expenditure on the project. Some jobs have already been commissioned; in Arkansas, half of the pipeline has already been built.

President Trump stated that the pipe should be built in the U. S—having signed an order to effect the same, even though India, Italy, and Canada had already built the rest of the pipeline. If the order were to be executed then it would mean that the U.S would build the remainder of the pipes—crediting the 12,000 jobs to the Keystone XL project, which still leaves a shortage of 12,000 jobs.

Through “induced and indirect “spending, the State Department estimates 26,000 jobs which may be purchases of goods and services by contractors. However, this means that employees working for a supplier of goods and services would have to spend. In the State Department report, for example, states the employment of 634 people in “arts, entertainment, and recreation services” in the U.S through the Keystone XL—even though 138 of those would be in the pipeline construction states. This leaves out dancers in New York City. The economic model surmises that part of the spending will ripple across the economy and in time, go back to the pockets of the citizens thereby pitching in a part of their annual pay; like how the provisional work by construction workers totals to jobs translated annually.

However, when looking at construction jobs, a total of 6,801 jobs are created including those from indirect spending. Manufacturing jobs—like those of pipe workers, sum up to 4,552 jobs. Adding to context, the report by the State Department states that all the supposedly created jobs, whether direct or indirect, account for a mere 0.02% of the nation’s total annual economic activity.