The Washington Post had a major story on the front page of its business section about the dilemma that Ohioans face over allowing fracking. After all, most believe that it will create jobs, but they also believe that it will damage the environment. That is really a tough call.
It would have helped if the paper had devoted a paragraph or two to putting some numbers behind this tradeoff. While it is difficult to put numbers on the environment side, in large part because the industry has worked hard to conceal evidence, it is not very hard to put numbers on the jobs side.
Based on the experience in Pennsylvania, it is likely that fracking would create less than 10,000 jobs in Ohio. While this is not altogether trivial, it would make up only about 3 percent of the 320,000 jobs lost since the recession began. This information would have been useful to people trying to assess the relative importance of the economic benefits and environmental risks.