• Who Benefits from an Oil Boom? Evidence from a Unique Alaskan Data Set

      James, Alexander; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Elsevier, 2020-08-26)
      Oil booms have been shown to increase local employment and wages. But these effects reflect the aggregated experience of residents, commuters, and recent migrants alike. This paper takes advantage of a unique data set that identifies a rich set of labor market outcomes by place of residence, rather than by place of work. Exploiting this feature of the data, we examine the effect of a major oil boom on employment and wage outcomes in the North Slope Borough of Alaska. This analysis is juxtaposed with a more conventional one that uses place-of-work data collected from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Using the Synthetic Control Method, we find that the oil boom of the late 2000s significantly increased non-residential employment. While the boom caused residential employment to shift from the public to the private sector, total residential employment was unaffected. There is weak evidence that residential wages increased in response to the boom. These results are important as drilling decisions are often negotiated locally by interest groups that might be less concerned with general equilibrium effects.