Well, the news keeps getting better!
As oil companies have discovered ways to tap this reserve, more and more manpower is needed to extract the oil, and towns are scrambling to find workers to support the new rush of labor.
The following excerpts form a condensed version of an article written by Blake Ellis for CNN, and that appeared on WPTV.com. For the full article version, click here:
Watford City is at the center of the Bakken formation. While it is home to less than 3,000 permanent residents, there are about 6,500 people there right now, as job hunters relocate to seek out high-paying jobs.
Aaron Pelton, the owner of Outlaws Bar & Grill in Watford, said his sales have been nearly doubling every year — and it’s only getting busier. Servers at his restaurant make about $25 an hour when tips are factored in, and kitchen staff employees make around $15 an hour.
Vickie McMullen and her husband were living in one of the poorest cities in North Carolina, and they knew they needed to move to dig themselves out of debt. “We want to be debt-free, so we came here to play catch-up,” said McMullen. “But when I came here, I thought I was on Mars. It’s just so crazy that the rest of the country has no jobs, and here’s this one place that doesn’t have enough people to fill all the jobs.”
With oil companies paying top dollar to the new onslaught of workers they need — doling out average salaries of $70,000, and more than $100,000 including over-time — other local businesses are boosting their pay to compete.
Taco John’s, a Western fast-food chain, has increased its pay from $8.50 an hour to $15 an hour in Williston to hold on to its workers during its busiest shifts. It’s also trying to keep pace with competitors, including the Subway and Hardee’s down the street, said general manager Christie Smith. The Taco John’s currently has more than 15 open positions and Smith said she has only turned down one applicant this year, “because he just looked too scruffy.”
Heather McLaren and her boyfriend came to Watford from Fargo about a year ago. She makes $10 an hour at a local gas station and convenience store, and her boyfriend works in farming and makes $15 an hour — up from $9.75 an hour in Fargo.
The pay bump was even bigger for Nathan Pittman, who was thinking about retiring from the trucking company he owned in Indiana, but put his plans on hold when he heard about the boom.
Pittman quickly landed at a trucking company in Watford making $20 an hour with “a lot” of overtime. In all, his salary more than doubled to about $2,225 a week in Watford.
“You can make at least a thousand dollars a week more here than anywhere else in the country,” he said.
Among the inconveniences the boom has caused for locals — including a higher cost of living, more traffic and higher turnover rates among businesses that lose employees to the oilfields — there’s a huge housing shortage.
“It’s been absolutely crazy lately — we just can’t build fast enough,” said Shawn Wenko, workplace development coordinator for the city of Williston. “We’ve probably seen 2,200 housing units come online this year, but we probably have demand for more than 5,000.”
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Photo credit: stuart miles