What Does Full Employment Look Like?

We can get a good picture of full employment by looking at Midland, Texas, where the unemployment rate hovers near 2%. Finding workers to do ordinary jobs as teachers, restaurant cooks, bus drivers, city workers, prison guards, etc. is getting much harder. Why? Because they have all gone to work for the oil companies and oil services, where they can make much more money.

Truck Drivers Make $140 K per Year

In the country’s busiest oil patch, where the rig count has climbed by nearly one-third in the past year, drillers, service providers and trucking companies have been poaching in all corners, recruiting everyone from police officers to grocery clerks. So many bus drivers with the Ector County Independent School District in nearby Odessa quit for the shale fields that kids were sometimes late to class.

… schools that teach how to pass the test for a CDL — commercial driver’s license — are packed.

“A CDL is a golden ticket around here,” said Steve Sauceda, who runs the workforce training program at New Mexico Junior College. “You are employable just about anywhere.”

And you can make a whole lot more money than waiting tables at Gerardo’s Casita. Jeremiah Fleming, 30, is on track to pull down $140,000 driving flatbed trucks for Aveda Transportation & Energy Services Inc., hauling rigs.
__ LA Times

Welders, pipefitters, electricians, experienced oil rig workers, engineers, and other highly skilled workers make more than the truck drivers, of course. Almost all of the skilled trades are in short supply near the Permian Basin, as are most of the unskilled trades like truck drivers and pump checkers.

“It is crazy,” said Jazmin Jimenez, 24, who zipped through a two-week training program at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, about 100 miles north of Midland, and was hired by Chevron Corp. as a well-pump checker. “Honestly I never thought I’d see myself at an oilfield company. But now that I’m here — I think this is it.”

That’s understandable, considering the $28-a-hour she makes is double what she was earning until December as a guard at the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. __ LATimes

Oil prices are high enough now to allow drillers to begin paying off debts, and to allow the oil service companies to charge more for their indispensable services. And oil prices are not likely to drop back to the $40 bbl range any time soon.

Near-full employment brings higher wages. We see this not only in the Texas oil field regions, but in parts of North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and other places where oil & gas are booming. This “skills drain effect” flowing to the oil & gas field areas, leads to skills and jobs shortages in other parts of the country where skilled (and unskilled) workers can then demand higher pay.

When a high tech economy is booming, there are many jobs paying between $20 and $40 per hour that can be learned in a matter of weeks or months. For an 18 year old right out of high school, such quickly learned and relatively high paying jobs (for their age) offer an opportunity to save a nest egg for longer-term goals.

Too bad that so many youth are routed toward college and university where they often go deeply into debt — only to drop out, or to graduate with a degree that gives them no advantages whatsoever in the job market. Perhaps only then, such young people can wake up out of their cultural dysphoria and begin to face the realities that no one prepared them for — not their parents, teachers, friends, or culture at large.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

This entry was posted in careers, Economics, Energy, Shale Oil & Gas Revolution and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.