Shale — It's the new American gold rush of the 21st century!

In this jobless recovery, it's generating jobs like crazy, and in some of America's most depressed steel-belt wastelands. The key to the bonanza has been the development of a new technology for liquefied natural gas exploration called hydraulic fracturing.

Now, these "shales" of gas have been identified in multiple states across the country: N.Y., Pa., W. Va, Texas, Ark., La.

A Penn State Univ report, issued this past July, finds that in 2008 alone, the Marcellus Shale industry generated $2.3 billion for Pa -- including more than 29,000 jobs and $240 million in state and local taxes.

Learn more about shale below and watch James Rosen's video report .

Shale

• Shale is a very fine-grained sedimentary rock that is easily broken into thin, parallel layers

• Shale can be converted into petroleum liquids, natural gas liquids, and methane by heating the rock

• The largest known U.S. shale formation extends below the surface in much of Pennsylvania and parts of New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

Natural Gas

• Shale production in 2008 was up 70% from the previous year

• Shale can contain a large amount of natural gas

• Shale gas is present across much of the lower 48 States

• The first producing gas well in the U.S. was completed in 1821 in Devonian-aged shale near the town of Fredonia, New York

• With over 10,000 wells drilled to date, the Barnett Shale in Texas is the most prominent shale gas play in the U.S.

Oil

• United States has the richest deposits of oil shale in the world

• U.S. Oil shale deposits are nearly five times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia underlies a surface area of 16,000 square miles

• More than 70% of American oil shale - including the thickest and richest deposits - lies on federal land, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

• Shale deposits on federal land contain an estimated 1.23 trillion barrels of oil - more than 50 times the nation's proven conventional oil reserves.

Jobs

• Nov 2009: 166,600 employed in oil and gas extraction in the United States

• Oct 2009: Average hourly earnings in oil and gas extraction was $27.26

• There were 75 oil and gas work-related fatalities from 2005-2008 in the U.S

• Nov 2009: Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction unemployment hit 12% (up +224% from Nov 2008)

Energy

• Unconventional gas production is forecast to increase from 46% of total US gas production in 2007 to 64% in 2020.

• Between 1999 and 2008, the national annual average residential natural gas price more than doubled

• Natural gas, coal and oil supply about 85% of the nation's energy, with natural gas supplying about 22% of the total

• The percent contribution of natural gas to the U.S. energy supply is expected to remain fairly constant for the next 20 years

• Natural gas is being consumed by the U.S. economy at a rate that exceeds domestic production and the gap is increasing

• Residential consumers along the Atlantic Coast tend to pay the most for natural gas

Sources:

• American Petroleum Institute Facts About Shale Gas
BLS Oil and Gas Extraction
Strategic Significance of America's Oil Shale Resource
Bureau of Land Management
DOE // Modern Shale Gas Development
Strategic Significance of America's Oil Shale Resource
Bureau of Land Management
Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer
US Department of Energy Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States
EIA
Strategic Significance of America's Oil Shale Resource
Bureau of Land Management
American Petroleum Institute Facts About Shale Gas