How Many Jobs Would Keystone XL Create?

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 18 2012 3:58 PM

How Many Jobs Would Keystone XL Create?

Normally debates about the job-creating punch of a given policy initiative are incredibly controversial and hard to adjudicate, but in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline the issue actually seems pretty clear. It would require about 13,000 person-years of work to build the pipeline, probably over the course of about two years, plus maybe about 7,000 more person-years manufacturing the stuff the pipeline is built out of. It's possible to spin this out into a great big controversy, since the pipeline's proponents have decided to spin that as "20,000 jobs" when it's almost inconceivable that 20,000 discrete individuals would be employed on the project.

In their more ambitious moments, however, pipeline boosters have tried to claim that hundreds of thousands of long-term jobs will miraculously appear like manna from the heavens due to lower gasoline prices, which is nuts. On the flipside, the criticism that these Keystone construction jobs will only be "temporary" is a bogus complaint—that's the nature of construction jobs. You have a job, the job is done, then if you're lucky you get another job.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.