Oil Boom Brings Scarcity of Workers in Small Towns

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) - In one Oklahoma town, the local prison is so short on guards that inmates can sometimes just walk away. A gas station barely has enough cashiers to keep up with the trucks filling the parking lot. And "help wanted" signs seem to hang from every restaurant and shop.

Yet almost no one is interested in the jobs.

This is the flip side of the nation's oil and natural gas boom. Although the expansion of drilling has breathed economic life into many small communities like Woodward, the lucrative opportunities are also drawing people away from traditional service-sector jobs and even once-coveted state positions.

LaVern Phillips is president of the Industrial Foundation in Woodward. He says anyone who "can walk and breathe" can get a good job in the oil patch.

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