Unemployment dropping, jobs increasing again in Williston

Credit: MGN Online
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It's been a rough few months for the oil industry. But rising oil prices are giving workers reason to hope again. And the latest numbers from Job Service Williston back that up.

When oil prices sank below $30 per barrel, workers in the industry got hit hard.

"Things started slowing down, and the bottom of us kind of got laid off," says Joseph Eckdahl, looking for work.

The second quarter of 2015 saw hirings drop nearly 38 percent. Mining and oil jobs saw a nearly 68 percent drop.

"It took a huge hit. Things were just going crazy when I got up here in 2012. There was lots more traffic, jobs everywhere, running around at night, and there's a lot less trucks on the road," says Eckdahl.

Joseph Eckdahl is one of many out of work because of slumping oil prices. But the latest jobs data show a step in the right direction.

"I think it's always doom and gloom what we've been hearing about the last year, but I think there's a lot of positives still going on in our state, and that's shown here in our overall job opening numbers," says Phil Davis, Job Service North Dakota.

Unemployment in Williams County dropped from 4 1/2 percent in April to 4.2 percent in May. And job openings increased from 758 in May to 805 in June. Unemployment claims fell from 284 in April to 188 in May.

"I don't think we're completely out of the woods yet, but obviously there's still room to grow and I think over time, we'll see that," says Davis.

With oil prices pushing $50 per barrel, the Bakken is starting to gain momentum.

"It's definitely picking up. I think a lot of people have left also, so that makes more things available for people that are coming up here and venturing in. So that's nice," says Eckdahl.

Eckdahl says he's confident he'll be able to find a job soon.

Davis expects the growing trend to continue over the next few months.