Job fairs are stocked with people hungry for better opportunities, but inside the MCM Grande Hotel in Odessa, Texas, oil services giant Halliburton is the one doing the wooing.
More than 500 men and women flocked to the MCM Grande Hotel in Odessa, Texas, on a recent Thursday to be courted by Halliburton, looking for everything from oilfield technicians to truck drivers, as oil production booms and qualified workers become more scarce. The US unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, an almost 18-year low, but job growth has slowed more recently – notably because companies are having trouble finding people.
A June Dallas Federal Reserve Bank survey of 60 oil executives operating in West Texas found that more than half cited difficulty finding workers as a potential drag on growth, according to Reuters.
Halliburton, the second largest provider of oilfield services after Schlumberger, is adding more than 175 jobs a month, hiring executives say.
People with commercial drivers’ licenses are in particular demand, although many attendees at the Odessa jobs fair did not have that license.
Janice Venables, 57, drove out to West Texas from Mississippi a month ago, after being laid off from Mississippi Power last year. She is applying for two jobs with Halliburton, but says she has applied for as many as 26 other oilfield jobs. “I don’t care where I go. I just need a job, and I’ve heard the wages are good,” Venables told Reuters. She lives in a recreational vehicle with her dog and cat, does not have a commercial driver’s license, but has started the process to enroll in a commercial driving class this fall.
The rush to apply for commercial drivers’ licenses comes as demand for truck drivers, in the oil industry and elsewhere, has driven up wages for anyone with the license.
Frank Hardin of Tennessee, who previously drove trucks delivering sand, said he recently landed a job as a driver with CIG Logistics. Instead of getting paid per load delivered, he now has a salaried position with CIG, which starts workers at as much as $85,000 with full benefits. Hardin welcomes the change.
“That’s what everyone wants. It’s a cakewalk for guys who’ve been on the road for years,” he told Reuters.