Need a job? Moving to the middle of nowhere may actually be your best bet.
In what is being called the largest oil boom in recent North American history, the oil industry in North Dakotais thriving, creating jobs in all sectors of the workforce in the area surrounding the Bakken formation.
The Bakken formation is a massive oil reserve located mostly within northwestern North Dakota and consists of anywhere from 4 billion to 24 billion barrels of oil. Oil companies recently discovered new techniques to tap into the reserves, and they are in need of laborers to work the rigs.
More than 180 oil companies are operating in the Bakken formation in North Dakota, centered on the cities of Williston andWatford. There are currently 100 drilling rigs in operation in the area, and this number is expected to increase to 150 by the end of the year.
While many areas of the country face high unemployment rates and lasting effects of the recession, North Dakota cannot find enough workers to operate the drilling rigs and accommodate the increased population.
Before the oil boom,Watford City,NDhad a population of 3,000 permanent residents. There are currently 6,500 living in the town, many without homes.
Because of the massive influx of people trying to capitalize on the black gold of the Bakken formation, housing in the area has become scarce. Many workers live out of their vehicles, in tents or makeshift dorm-style units known as “man camps.”
Prior to flocking to the burgeoning area surrounding the North Dakotaoil boom, it’s recommended to line up housing in advance. Although salaries for oil workers range from $70K to $100K per year, and wages in other sectors of the workforce have nearly doubled in the area, many who have relocated to reap the benefits are living in conditions of poverty due to the lack of housing.
Entry-level jobs in Williston, such as those in grocery stores, restaurants and other service-oriented industries pay a minimum of $12 per hour. Truck drivers in the area can make around $70K to $80K per year. On average, workers in North Dakotacan make at least $1,000 more a month than in other parts of the country.
Thousands of Americans have uprooted and relocated to the area surrounding the Bakken formation in hopes of getting back on their feet and paying off debt. Williston’s population grew from 12,000 to 15,000 with the oil boom, and new people arrive every day.
Although the promise of earning a decent living and securing gainful employment is strong, many do not factor in the extreme weather of North Dakota, which ranges from harsh icy winters to blistering hot summers. This especially poses a challenge when so many people are without places to live.
To compensate for the population growth, new businesses have popped up in the area, and they are thriving. Housing projects are in the works to provide the new residents with a much-needed alternative to crashing in their cars or living out of tents.
It’s an ironic situation that one of the most prosperous areas in the nation is in the middle of nowhere of North Dakota, but the jobs are there and business is booming. As history has proven over the years, oil is often found in places where people are not.
Ellis, Blake. “Double your salary in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota” CNN Money http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/28/pf/north_dakota_jobs/index.htm Accessed 10/11/11
“Finding a Job in North Dakota: The Bakken Oil Drilling Boom” http://ghost32.hubpages.com/hub/Finding-A-Job-In-North-Dakota-The-Baken-Oil-Drilling-Boom Accessed 10/11/11
“North Dakota: Many Jobs, No Housing” Classifieds 100 http://job-library.classifieds1000.com/oil_boom/20100718-19379-North-Dakota-Many-Jobs-No-Housing Accessed 10/11/11