Deployment of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" technology in places like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas has reversed the nation's long decline in oil and gas production. Fluctuating energy prices could take the bloom off the drill bit at some point. Some places, like Towanda, Pa., have already seen many drillers move on to more valuable gas fields, leaving empty cafe booths in their wake.
But overall, experts believe the boom will continue for many years despite the vicissitudes of the global energy market and environmental concerns about fracking.
By 2020, development of so-called unconventional sources of petroleum should yield 4.5 million barrels per day, more than twice today's output, forecasts IHS Global Insight. That translates into a hiring of nearly 1.3 million workers over that time, the consulting firm estimates.
If those numbers aren't impressive enough, consider this: Hilcorp Energy Company, a Houston-based oil and gas producer, made the 2013 list of Fortune magazine's top companies to work for. One reason: The firm is planning to give every employee a $100,000 bonus if it doubles its production rate and reserves by 2015.
2. Other booms are more of a mirage.
The nation is seeing a decided rebound in manufacturing after the Great Recession. As Chinese wages go up, American companies are beginning to bring back some of the production they outsourced to Asia, particularly for higher-margin products, such as sophisticated appliances and speciality athletic shoes.