Job Openings Outnumber Workers 2 to 1 in the Bakken

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Upcoming job fairs in Williston and Watford City will be offering over 2,000 positions in the North Dakota Oil Patch

Cindy Sanford, the manager for Job ServicesND’s Williston office, is on the front lines of the battle to win workers back to the Bakken. Housing stipends, per diems and flexible work schedules are a few of the perks she is seeing companies explore to recruit workers.

Between the three North Dakota Oil Patch counties covered by Job ServicesND’s WIlliston office, job postings have hit a three-year high — back where they were before the collapse in oil prices.

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The latest jobs report shows a year-on-year 33.2 percent increase in unfilled mining and oil extraction jobs in Williams County. That is 2,167 more jobs. McKenzie County’s increase for the same sector is 20.6 percent, or 256 jobs.

Transportation is up 330 jobs or 19.1 percent in Williams County, and up 125 jobs or 17.2 percent in McKenzie County for the same sector.

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Sanford is having two job fairs this month, one in Watford City and another in Williston, both of which will be full of hopeful employers with double-digit job openings.

Wiliston’s job fair has 96 booths and Watford City 72. Between the two, there are 106 different companies vying for new employees. Sanford said there are more than 2,000 job openings, just figuring a conservative 20 jobs for each company.

“I know for a fact, though, that two of the companies need 100 truck drivers each,” Sanford told local news outlet The Williston Herald. And an oilfield service company she is working with has 40-plus openings right now. “Everyone who comes in here right now is talking about double-digit need.”

This year Sanford has invited area juniors and seniors to both job fairs, along with their parents, to learn more about the lucrative careers available in the area.

Williston’s job fair will take place 3pm-7pm at the Raymond Family Center on April 25. Juniors and seniors may enter the job fair after veterans have had their chance to talk to companies first. In Watford City, at the Rough Rider Center, veterans choice begins at 11am, April 26. Juniors and seniors are invited to join the job fair at 2:30 pm, the end of their school day. The fair closes at 3pm.

Some companies do still have 80-hour workweeks if that’s the type of job a person wants to find, Sanford added. And there are still some of the old-style, two-weeks on, two-weeks off rotations, too.

“One difference with that is that many of the companies, with some of the changes, need someone who is available within an hour if called,” Sanford told local news outlet the Williston Herald. “So basically, you have to live here. And it is so many jobs. So, so many.”

Unlike the previous boom, however, this time the rest of the nation is no longer in a recession. That’s making it harder to fill positions. It is driving wages up, to sweeten the deal for recruitment in a scenario where jobs already outnumber workers 2 to 1, and the recovery is just beginning.

View Details About the Job Fair Here >>

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