1% unemployment in the US. That’s a far cry from the reports you hear of the US. But the employment accounts are the stuff of legends.
North Dakota is the third most productive energy state, on its way to being number two, behind Texas. And that is creating jobs. Lots of jobs. Unemployment in the Bakken region is 1%. $10-15 an hour for working in a fast food restaurant, if you can even find someone to work for so little.
Let me give you a rundown on what I found. When we went into the “office” of the rig there was a young man who looked to be in his early 30s. He was a “tool-pusher,” which means he ran the rig. Clearly very smart and trustworthy, but he didn’t have a college degree, just lots of oil-field experience. He works 28 days, 12 hours a day straight and then takes two weeks off to go see his wife and kids. When working he lives in a small room at the rig. He makes $350,000 a year. The kid is one of those millionaires and billionaires that Obama wants to tax.
A starting salary on the rig is $120,000 a year, with no experience. But you work your tail off for very long hours. The consultant who oversaw the rig operation for the investors made around $250,000. (By the way, he could tell me to the dollar what his costs were for the well during the hour we were there. There were very sophisticated cost controls.)
An oil-truck driver makes $150-175,000 a year. All that oil has to be taken by truck to a railroad terminal and loaded onto railcars, to form 100-car trains that take the oil to refineries around the country. Loren took us to his new train terminal, where the trucks were lined up to empty their tanks and go back to another well for a load. All up and down the line, there are jobs that are begging to be filled.
But working in the oil field is hard work and a difficult life. That starter oil-rig job? It looked quite dangerous to me. Campgrounds packed with small trailers are everywhere. There are “man camps,” which are glorified dormitories that can cost as much as $3,000 a month for room and board. Construction? If you can swing a hammer in the cold, you can have a job. Most people seemed to work for 14 or 28 days (12 hours) and then take a week or two off.
[Ritholtz|Peak Oil or Peak Energy? A Happy Solution|Read more]
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