≡ Menu

If You Are Unemployed And Need A Job then…

williston job oil rig employment

Oil rig in Williston, ND. flickr - lindsey gee

You have been unemployed for a year, your savings are depleted, and you are barely getting by on unemployment checks, what can you do? You can keep collecting unemployment until it runs out after 99 weeks, but wouldn’t it be better to work? Of course, almost everyone would rather work than collect unemployment because a paycheck is much bigger than the unemployment check. It can be difficult to find a job with 9% unemployment though. How about scraping together enough money to drive/fly/bus to Williston, North Dakota?

Why Williston, ND? There is an oil boom there right now and according to NPR, anyone can get 2-3 job offers within the first few days that they drive into town. In fact, the mayor, Ward Koeser, told NPR that they “have probably between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings in Williston right now.” Williston’s unemployment rate is less than 2% and the population has grown from 12,000 to 20,000 in the last four years.

That sounds like a boom town to me. This piqued my curiosity and I looked on Monsters.com for jobs in Williston. I only saw 69 jobs there, but there are all kind of job openings. I saw oilfield delivery specialist, insurance agent, AT&T full time retail sales, general maintenance technician, reliability engineer, field service trainer, transportation security officer, buyer, physical therapist, head cook, and many more. An experience oil rig worker can make $4,000 to $5,000 a week with a lot of overtime. That’s a great paycheck, but the 80 hour work week won’t be sustainable though.

Of course, it’s not all rosy up there. The housing situation is very difficult. The price of a small apartment can go for as high as $2,000 and even an RV parking spot costs about $1,000. Wow, that is an expensive parking spot!  A 4-plex would be a great investment up there! Many people are sleeping in their cars, pup tents, motels, campers, and “man camps.” What is a man camp? It sounds like a dorm for workers. For $400, you get a small room with a single bed, a small desk, a TV with cable and a DVD player, and a Jack-and-Jill bathroom (share with the next door neighbor.)

All right, this doesn’t sound that bad to me. I had a roommate in a tiny dorm when I went to school, shared a bathroom with 24 guys, paid way more than $400/month, and that was 20 years ago. I’m sure this accommodation is much nicer than most factory dorms in China.

I know many people are tied down in their location, but if you can’t find a job after a year of searching, then it might be time to look elsewhere. My brother looked for a software engineer job in Texas for over a year with no luck, so he finally gave up and moved to San Jose. He found a good paying job in his first few months in the Silicon Valley. If you desperately need a paycheck, then you need to go where the jobs are. What is your opinion on this? There are also oil boom towns in Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado if you like the sun more than the snow. If I desperately need a paycheck, I would seriously consider driving up to one of these boom towns for a job. How about you?

Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you
{ 31 comments… add one }
  • MoneyforCollegePro September 30, 2011, 2:49 am

    Thankfully, I have never been forced to change locations to find a job that paid well, and was enjoyable, but I would certainly consider it if I was unemployed with no prospects. The concept of a boom town is pretty intriguing. Makes me think of the Alaska Gold Rush. I guess oil is the new gold…

    • retirebyforty September 30, 2011, 1:42 pm

      If I was desperate for a paycheck, I’d probably go. It would probably be ok to go for a few years and save up some money to start a business or something like that.

  • Niki September 30, 2011, 3:08 am

    My cousin’s husband actually works at one of these places. It has been great for their family. She stays in Cali and he stays at a “man camp” and comes home every few weeks to visit. Where they live in California there are NO jobs. It is hard work and the weather is pretty horrible come winter time, but you got to do what you got to do.

  • 20's Finances September 30, 2011, 4:17 am

    I absolutely agree. If you are desperate for a job, this seems like a really good opportunity. If you have a partner, you would also need to consider if he/she has a job where you currently live and whether you would be able to recover that money lost. I wouldn’t be willing to live in two places like many couples are doing, but that’s just me.

    • retirebyforty September 30, 2011, 1:44 pm

      It’s tough to have a long distant relationship especially if you have kids.

      • Jon -- Free Money Wisdom October 1, 2011, 6:27 pm

        That would be KILLER to have a long distance relationship while married. My fiancee lives in TN and I’m in CA and it’s rough. I can’t imagine being apart while MARRIED. Ouch. I guess you do what you have to in this bleak economy.

        • debra pugh March 4, 2012, 7:57 am

          Yes it is rough my husband left me we are getting a divorce!!! he got on a chatline. he works for knife river they will only house the man and not the wives so husbands gets lonely so far away from home.

  • 101 Centavos September 30, 2011, 6:07 am

    This is a radical way to seek a new life, but when you’re in survival mode, anything goes. You *must* seek out greener pastures. North Dakota, northern Alberta, or Western Australia. Seek out oil or resource boomtowns, and you’ll make a living.

    • retirebyforty September 30, 2011, 1:46 pm

      I agree. You have to do what you have to do to survive.

  • Little House September 30, 2011, 6:59 am

    I’m all for moving where the jobs are as long as you can – within reason. For example, I’ll be looking for a teaching job in January (mid-school year is rough but possible), but my husband refuses to leave CA. So, we’re now looking at moving to another part of CA, most likely Northern CA. Of course, if that’s a bust, I might be able to talk him into expanding his horizons!

    • retirebyforty September 30, 2011, 1:45 pm

      Good luck! Northern CA is very nice. 🙂

  • Jeff @ Sustainable life blog September 30, 2011, 10:01 am

    Moving is a great thing to consider, but I can tell from this post that you’ve never been to williston. That place has absolutely been going crazy for the past 3 years after they released a proven reserves post in what they call the baaken shale formation that lies under much of W North dakota and E montana.
    After grad school I couldnt find a job, and seriously considered moving to that very area (It was in the early stages then) but eventually found a job. Roughnecking is hard work, and williston gets COLD in the winter. But you’re right – if you’re out of options where you live, consider moving. (perhaps developing some land around williston instead of drilling – easier on the back)

    • retirebyforty September 30, 2011, 11:53 am

      Yeah, that’s why I suggested Texas and other states with boom towns. I think they also need a lot of support jobs like cook and drivers. Roughnecking probably isn’t for me. 🙂

  • krantcents September 30, 2011, 5:06 pm

    It is a lot easier if you are single. After a while , reality sets in and maybe you have to move to restart your career.

  • Darwin's Money September 30, 2011, 5:53 pm

    Commodities offer opportunities like this all over, like mining work in Australia as well. It’s often a lousy life, good pay. Seems to be a decent short-term gig for a couple years as a young guy, but not something that works for most fathers especially. It’s like anything in a free market, if the job weren’t so bad, there are tons of unskilled unemployed americans out there, they’d flock there and wages would drop. the work must be appreciably bad or require attributes many don’t possess which keeps the salary so high.

    • retirebyforty October 3, 2011, 9:05 am

      It would be the last resort for me as well. I would rather stay where I am and be with the family, but if I can’t find a job for a year then it would be an option. Better to go and earn some money rather than keep accumulating debt.

  • Matt Wegner @ Financial Excellence September 30, 2011, 9:31 pm

    I’ve talked to a lot of people in my area that complain about the lack of jobs here but are unwilling to even consider relocating. I guess things aren’t bad enough to put them out of their comfort zone. Lots of people would rather complain about their situation than do something about it.

    • retirebyforty October 3, 2011, 9:06 am

      Complaining is easy, the difficult thing is to do something about it. Once things get bad enough, then people will probably consider relocation more.

  • Buck Inspire September 30, 2011, 11:34 pm

    Interesting post. The bottom line is survival. I was in between jobs in the last quarter of 2009 and actually had a plan to get out of town to stay with family if things didn’t turn around. Fortunately it did and I never executed it. Collecting unemployment is nice and helps, but I was more comfortable securing a paycheck and using unemployment checks as a safety net.

    • retirebyforty October 3, 2011, 9:07 am

      Thanks for your input. It’s good that you found a job before you had to do that.

  • Doctor Stock October 1, 2011, 11:01 pm

    Yes, I read that article elsewhere and was surprised by the flood of employment opportunities. We need to continue these private sector job creation opportunities.

  • My University Money October 2, 2011, 7:56 pm

    I live a couple hours North of Williston in Manitoba, Canada, and I can’t believe how many unemployed people refuse to relocate to ND and Montana right now with the oil boom going on. There is money to be made for the next 4-5 years at least I would expect in a variety of spin-off industries. I have heard so many people comment it is too rural or too cold, and in my opinion this just shows how spoon-fed we are in North America. During the real “great depression” people would have flocked to Williston. Nowadays people just flock to the Financial Aid office for their hand out.

    • retirebyforty October 3, 2011, 9:10 am

      I guess most people are still able to scrape by with unemployment and debt. If they are out of choices, then I expect people to start heading there. Sure it is rural and cold, but if you need money then it’s better than warm and sunny and no job.

  • Docto Stock October 2, 2011, 8:07 pm

    Sadly, I agree… I see that all the time too.

  • physician assistant October 3, 2011, 9:16 am

    Interesting post.This is a radical way to seek a new life,If you are desperate for a job, this seems like a really good opportunity..

  • Invest It Wisely October 3, 2011, 7:00 pm

    I’ve heard about the man camps! If my prospects were bleak, I would consider heading out there or out to the Canadian equivalent. I agree with My University Money, we are all too spoiled and sometimes treat the government as if it was a big daddy — and that’s what we voted for!

  • Randy October 15, 2011, 4:32 am

    I am seriouly considering movaing to williston area. My concern is how to get in touch with employers be fore i go. Please , all help will be appreciated. Thanks

    • andrea October 28, 2011, 9:48 am

      try the north dakota job service website. should have phone numbers and company website info.

  • Chris July 30, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Just go there if you can’t find a job in 3 hours your not looking

Leave a Comment