10/5/2011 7:00 PM ET|
Unemployed? Go to North Dakota
Workers are being hired so quickly that there is also a booming business in housing them. And wages are so high that even McDonald's pays $15 an hour.
Unemployment is a national problem in the United States, but you wouldn't know that if you traveled through North Dakota.
Suddenly, people are moving to the Peace Garden State, where an oil boom has immunized residents from the most severe recession in decades. Wages are up, and work is plentiful.
The state's unemployment rate recently hovered a little above 3%, and "Help Wanted" signs litter the landscape of cities such as Williston in the way "For Sale" signs populate the streets of Las Vegas.
"It's a zoo," said Terry Ayers, who came to town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. "It's crazy what's going on out here."
Billions of dollars are coming into the state and thousands of people are following -- all because millions of barrels of oil are flowing out.
The result: An old-fashioned oil boom.
There's little available housing in parts of North Dakota, so newcomers sleep in truck stops and parking lots of Wal-Mart stores. Developers are building hundreds of houses and thousands of apartment units.
The McDonald's in Williston is one of the busiest in the country, and it needs to pay $15 an hour just to attract employees.
And then there are the trucks -- thousands of them -- on the state's roads. One left turn in Williston gets so backed up with truck traffic that it can take hours to get through the intersection.
"If you're not making money now, there's a major problem," said Williston Mayor Ward Koeser, who is overwhelmed with managing the city's growth. Among the problems Koeser is grappling with are sewage treatment, building permits and an exponential increase in traffic violations.
As for the oil itself, it comes from the Bakken rock formation, which spans 14,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana and Canada. The U.S. Geological Survey says there are at least 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken, but other estimates indicate that it could be four to five times that.
"Clearly, it is the largest oil field we've found in North America in the last 40 years," said Bud Brigham, the founder and chief executive of Brigham Exploration (BEXP, news), which has staked the company's future on the Bakken oil business. "If it's more than 15 billion barrels, it may be the biggest oil field found in America ever."
Fortunes tied to 'fracking'
The Bakken has been a known source of oil for decades, but only in recent years has it become feasible to profitably get the oil out of the ground. There are two reasons for this: oil prices and drilling technology.
Oil companies, including Brigham, Continental Resources (CLR, news), Hess (HES, news) and EOG Resources (EOG, news), drill two miles down and two miles horizontally. Then, they use hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to create space for oil to flow out of the rock -- hundreds of thousands of barrels a day, literally one drop at a time.
"In a couple of years, the Williston Basin (where the Bakken is located) will surpass the oil production out of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," said Rick Muncrief, senior vice president at Continental.
Of course, that's as long as prices remain relatively high and fracking is allowed to continue.
"Where we are today, we can generate really solid returns at $65 to $70 a barrel," said Bud Brigham.
As for fracking, it is the process that makes oil extraction possible in the dense rock and shale of the Bakken. Basically, equipment creates thousands of fissures in the rock, and then sand, water and even ceramics are blasted into the formation to prop open the fissures to let the oil flow.
There are chemicals in the "frack water," and there has been some environmental backlash. So far, it looks like the drilling method will be permitted, but if fracking were limited or disallowed, the Bakken boom would go bust.
For now, it is full speed ahead, and that means hiring will continue at a rapid clip. The trickle-down is ubiquitous, and the money is eye-popping.
Shelter for workers
If you have a license and no criminal record, you can get a six-figure trucking job almost overnight. Real-estate construction is almost as frenzied as the oil drilling, and there's a huge business in housing the workers.
The business is sometimes referred to as providing "man camps," although some women stay there, too. It's a lot like most people would think: trailers in rows, with workers sleeping in simple single rooms or bunking with others.
"We have almost 3,000 bedrooms under management, covering over hundreds of miles in the Bakken," said Brian Lash who runs Target Logistics, the biggest "man camp" provider in the Bakken. (It describes the camps as "lodges.")
Lash has dealt with booms before, and his company's actions indicate that he believes the Bakken has room to grow.
"We've got almost $100 million in buildings and underground infrastructure so far in the Bakken," he said in August. "We have another three projects that we're about to start."
In Williston, the "man camp" is a better place to be than the Wal-Mart parking lot or the back of a pickup. But most people don't care, as long as the work continues and the money continues to flow with the oil.
"I have a bed in the back of the camper shell," Terry Ayers said as the sun began to set on the back end of the Wal-Mart parking lot. "You just can't get back there (right now). It's still too hot. You have to wait until the sun drops."
After a little back-and-forth banter, he sums it up: "All for a job."
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
I live in North Dakota and you don't want to come here. You want to know why places are charging so much for rent...to try and drive people away. The crime has got out of hand and more and more locals have started protecting themselves with guns (for the record, it IS legal for the property owner to shoot to kill if your on private property and the owner feels threatened).
Oh and as for winter, well those who are saying 40 below zero....that is temp F, not including windchill which drives the temp to -60 in no time at all, we also are expected to get over 200 inches of snow this year (yes I know that sounds far fetched but that's what the National weather service has been telling us). I don't want people to think we are rude and gun toting cowboys but ALOT of locals are getting tired of the all the extra crime that is coming with these people who are coming here for work, so IF you do come here....leave your troubles behind and DON'T come here and cause the crime rate to go up.
As a life-long North Dakota, I don't think the winters are that bad. No, you can't sleep in your car, but that certainly is not unique to ND. It is a great place to live. I would ask that truckers who come here obey the laws and show respect for the communities where they live. I think too many people are just here to work until their bodies wear out or the job market "at home" improves. The lack of respect for the traffic laws (and thus their fellow humans) is making a trip to town a veritable crap shoot. Also, the litter is turning our road ditches and beautiful vistas into trash dumps. Those of us who call ND home would love to welcome people who want to make the state their home (and treat it as such),
This one article knocks down nearly everything the left has thrown up.
Trickle down economics works. Even McDonalds workers are benefitting.
Big Oil provides good jobs.
Only Gov't regulation can stop those good jobs.
3% unemployment, and none of it because of Gov't.
Vast supplies of oil in our own country.
Regular people working their way into success.
SO the rich people that own these companies, are they the enemy? Looks more like they just created real jobs.
And had the Gov't seized their money (to handout to the incompetent or lazy) would they be able to create these jobs?
Drill baby drill. Work people work. Pump, pump - pump it up.
Real America vs Washington.
I lived in that area about 4 years ago, before the boom, I moved there from Tampa, Florida. The first winter I thought I was going to freeze to death, but you get over it and move on. Gorgeous and strange country I come from the eastcoast were there were trees so it shocked me that there were none.
The people are pretty friendly and back then, the housing costs were cheap. If you want to work you will suck it up and do whatever you have to do!!!!!!!!!
And it will be a good place to live until the liberals call them all racists because they all work and commit very little crime, and relocate the dead-beets of America there because there is some free money to be had.
LOL LOL LOL, and i would like to repeat... LOL.
Sure, go to good ole North (and once again I would like to repeat... NORTH) Dakota.
I lived there for 30 years, BE PREPARED!!! cold does not even begin to cover the winter months.. you know between July 30th and June 25th....
But it is a very lovely country, great home town, down to earth people that often go out of their way to help anyone that is in need.
one note, bring a tree to plant, we only had sixteen when I left and they all had names. hehe.
(I loved the comment about the mosquitoes. yes, the size of large 747's)
Keep on keeping on North Dakota !!!! great place to have been raised. I go back every few years (in the summer month)
cheers my Friends
Sounds like you have a good thing going ND. Hope it lasts. You are going to need to fight to keep politics and "outsiders" out. Hope those two factors don't ruin your cities, schools and friendly people.
Yes, you will need job skills to get good jobs. If you don't have them, don't complain about how much you make.
I grew up in ND and lived there until I was 18. I don't think people understand how cold it really gets unless you have been there in the middle of winter when the wind is blowing 40 mph and the temp is 40 below and there is not a tree in sight to even try to break the wind. It is one thing to describe it to people but it is another for them to actually experience it. I hated the freezing cold weather, not being able to take a breath without my lungs freezing or my nose hairs freezing (weird feeling by the way) and I was born and raised there. So I wish every one good luck especially those who come from warm climates, the cold is deadly there no joke. So be sure to secure housing before going. I couldn't even find a hotel for one night when I went back when my grandma was dying. The housing will get better eventually, I hope before winter and try the knoephla soup!
I lived there for 10 years in the 60s and 70s, great country and great people. Sounds like a great spot now for those who have minimal attachments, are young and want to work hard.
Good luck to all of you and thanks for helping make America great again.
WARNING: To all folks considering moving here, please make sure you can hack it. I would like to remind everyone about the blizzard in ND last year that left hundreds of motorists stranded on the road and had to be rescued by the nation guard (most if whom I would assume were from out of state). If you are from ND you know how to drive in a blizzard, or you know to stay off the darn road. Roads here close often from blizzards and you could be stranded for hours if not a day or two before the road is re-opened. Not to mention it gets so cold that your spit freezes before it hits the ground in the winter – FACT. And yes, if you are wearing a winter parka when it is 50 degrees ABOVE zero and the rest of us are still in t-shirts, I will laugh at you because with the wind chill it will be at least 100 degrees colder than that at least one day in January.
My husband and his cousin are living in Fairview right now, in a motor home. I'm worried about what will happen when the temperatures drop. I have looked into apartments and houses to rent, without much luck. I think it's really sad that quite a few people are kicking their long time renters out so they can now charge 2 to 4 THOUSAND dollars a month, plus utilities, to the workers moving to the area. It's just not right to do this to the men and women who are giving up everything to try to make a better life for their families in North Dakota.
First when the main stream media is reporting something; its not that rosy. Like the housing bust they will let you in toward the high of things and housing there has skyrocketed in the city they mentioned above.
The information I'm about to give you is priceless and I could charge for this but, here we go.
1: Check out the USGS BAKKEN oil field; it stretches very far and wide. You will notice that there are other areas that are going to be or are being developed. This should lead you into looking into whats going on in WY and Texas as well.
2: The California Builders Association and there cronies are in the housing market now around Williston so don't look to live in that area. $1000 - $2000 a month is going to be common in the next year. (Here's my own personnel Idea 1 Acre of raw land Camper and Propane and solar hookup. Also you can take a $2000 400sqft Homedepot cottage and put on it.)
3: Oil Price will dictate what is going to happen so have an exit plan if your like me and your family isn't going to be with you. I stay 14 hours away and thats a half days drive.
4: If you do your research and plan you know to come there prepared; If you live in the Region and familiar with the temperatures ie Northern Midwest like myself originally you know what clothing to bring for those wild temp swings. Extreme to both sides.
5: Based on my research the pay is for non skilled and no license is $16.00 to $18.00 an hr. Hours are 70+ a week. If your a CDL A you can get $18.00 - $30.00 65+ a week. These are avg's and it depends on what your driving and what your endorsements and experience are. Id say get your tanker hazmat triples and you will be fine.
6: Find a reputable company to work for as there are outfits up there that are there for themselves and give poor equipment to the workers. All the money in the world won't help if you die before you collect.
7: Drug test are done through hair follicles so if your a user of the GovMints products you aren't going to get into one of the better outfits.
8: DON'T OVER LOOK CANADA you are a hair stone away and they have a couple companies now doing so work on the Bakken as well. On the border area of ND the well runs on both sides of the fence. They will work the Sour Crude wells mostly on our side of the border. The Grade B stuff not A. They have More Jobs available. Though I have just started doing research on them. I can tell you there more Jobs there.
9: There is a Culture war as with any boom cities going on; its just a fact. So please don't try to impress your ways on folks there. There are plenty of people from all walks of life there. They run the gambit on shads and colors.
10: GL and Do your homework I also do vids on U Tubbie under this name.
P.S. I have yet to wait "HOURS" at an intersection for trafic, maybe 15 minutes or so, and the State is investing on road infrastructure in the area to accomodate for the heavy truck traffic.
The area will get better, as will housing. The oil filed is one of the few things remaining that will help put food on the tables of many Americans today. And many jobs do not require a degree or years/money invested in "higher learning" institutions.....
If only we had a President with the balls to invest in better refineries and drilling permits. Perhaps fuel would not consume a vast majority our our income today. 8 years of a "big oil" Texan in office and not a single refinery built, pathetic!
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