FORT WORTH Much of North Texas has been shielded from the worst of the economic downturn by drilling for natural gas.

A new study shows just how great the impact has been and will be in the future.

It shows about 100,000 jobs being supported right now in the 24 counties covering the Barnett Shale.

The study puts the total economic impact for the last 10 years at $65.4 billion.

Economist Ray Perryman crunched the numbers for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He told City Council Tuesday the economic impact of gas drilling now exceeds aircraft manufacturing and transportation, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field.

Perryman said employment related to drilling including everything from rig workers to real estate agents peaked in 2008 at 120,000 jobs.

That has dropped with falling energy prices, but he says it's now rising again.


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