Gas industry remedies 'brain drain' in Western Pennsylvania

September 23, 2014

For Justin Welker, Western Pennsylvania was always home.

His friends were here.

His family was here.

Unfortunately, his job wasn't.

When Welker graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a degree in fisheries management, he had to move to North Carolina to find work as a biological fisherman for the state.

Then came the Marcellus shale boom. Welker, 33 and living in Wexford, was able to return home, landing a job as water supervisor with Range Resources, a leading independent oil and natural gas producer in the region.

The Crawford County native is an example of what experts believe is the natural gas industry's gradual reversal of the region's decades-old "brain drain," the mass exodus of young, educated workers to other states because there were no local jobs for them.

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