An energy boom is underway in the United States. New discoveries of oil and natural gas across the country mean the industry is hiring skilled workers more than any other sector, according to an article published recently in Wall Street Journal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May that the oil and gas extraction sector, as well as service companies, added more than 400,000 jobs in the last quarter. Those jobs ranged from roustabouts to tax accountants. Unfortunately, those thousands of jobs have not affected the overall national unemployment rate, which remains at 9%. Here in Oklahoma, Devon Energy is expected to expand its workforce – looking to add some 450 workers this year and possibly the same number again in 2012. As the OERB's recent economic impact report shows, oil and natural gas jobs are good paying jobs, too. The average income of an oil and natural gas employee in the state of Oklahoma is $107,000. To add more perspective to the increased jobs numbers in drilling, the WSJ offered this comparison: Through May of this year, industry employment had increased 13.6% versus construction employment, which is up less than one percent. And, even more jobs could be coming, says one energy company, if offshore drilling were to return to pre-oil spill levels. Quest Offshore Resources predicts in a study that 190,000 jobs could be created if the federal government's permitting process was less cumbersome. "The study shows what could be accomplished on jobs if projects approval and permits could bet back to a normal pace," said Jack Gerard, president and chief executive office of the American Petroleum Institute. "We've done the necessary work raising the bar on safety. We cannot continue to delay developing energy and hiring people in the gulf."