6 Figure Salary & Still Homeless

Think you got employees problems – check this out from CNN Money – America’s Biggest Boomtown:

In the town of Williston, N.D., America’s newest oil boomtown, more than 6,000 job seekers have come from every corner of the country looking for work. Yet, oil companies and other developers haven’t been able to build housing units fast enough.

In the past year, only about 2,000 new housing units have been built, leaving many workers out in the cold.

With dozens of job seekers arriving by the day and fewer and fewer spots for them live in, people are taking some desperate measures.

Newer arrivals who can’t find vacant hotel rooms or apartments sleep in their cars or in sleeping bags on spare patches of grass along the highway. The luckier ones nab a spot in one of the dozens of dorm-like facilities, known as “man camps,” that the oil companies have built to house their workers.

The living conditions are far from ideal, but to some of these workers the lure of doubling or tripling their salaries far outweighs the physical and mental toll it can take…

Halliburton, one of the major drilling and hydraulic fracturing companies in the region, even went so far as to have the Olympic Village housing units that were used for the security guards from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics relocated to the town for its workers.

Benjamin Lukes, 31, has been living in Halliburton’s “man camp” for almost a year now.

Lukes is bringing in roughly $100,000 a year (including overtime pay), nearly triple the amount he made back in Minnesota when he was manufacturing plastics. But it means being far from his family and living in quarters that he likens to a “prison cell.”

The facility is wall-to-wall white, with long empty hallways and flourescent lighting. Lukes’ room is about 160 square feet, the walls are bare — except for a drawing from his daughter — and there’s a metal-framed twin bed.

In HR we talk about having “High Class” problems – this is a perfect example of having a high class problem!   It wouldn’t matter if these people were making $300,000 they would still be sleeping in an RV in the Walmart parking lot.  One of the most stressful and fun times you can ever have as an HR Pro is to a be a part of a company growing so fast, and so profitable, that you have “high class” problems.  When senior leadership is coming to you, not just asking for more talent, but to find a way to house all of the talent you’re bringing in – and you actually get to use those creative juices that HR has locked away in your soul.

It all makes me think of just one thing:

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire,
Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”
Said “Californy is the place you ought to be”
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.

Since the 1850’s America has been chasing the oil dream, and it’s 2011 and for how much we’ve changed – we’re still chasing the dream!

1 thought on “6 Figure Salary & Still Homeless

  1. I think the whole state of North Dakota is suffering from “high class” problems these days. Housing is still a huge issue, but it’s getting better over time. Production has slowed a bit, so people need to be a bit more thoughtful about their job search before the come up.

    Interesting take on things though. Thanks.

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