The Oil Jobs Boom In The Middle-of-nowhere

Rural areas of North Dakota have seen a boom in recent years, as oil and gas companies flock to the small farm areas to extract oil from the recently discovered Bakken formation.

The boom has had its pains, though - small towns that once had populations in the teens now struggle to house thousands, as waves of people eager to work long hours for big wages flock from across the nation.

The influx is reminiscent of a frontier town from the old California gold rushes of the 1800's, with armies of rough and ready workers dusting through these quiet little towns. While the mass influx is a boon for businesses eager to serve, it can be a curse for residents, who must face escalating crime, trash, pollution, and dangerous road dotted with eighteen wheelers heading to and from the oil fields. The influx is a curse for the workers too - there are simply not enough houses available to accommodate everyone, which has seen rents climb to NYC level prices in the thousands, where before they were in the low hundreds. That has left many workers living in temporary shacks or cars and RVs in parking lots.

Workers don't complain though - many moved thousands of miles to escape low paying dead-end jobs or never-ending unemployment. The lure was hard to resist - money. The oil companies are paying big bucks if you're willing to work long hours; it's not uncommon for a worker with low qualifications to make six figures with overtime. The effect has rubbed off onto the local economy as well. North Dakota enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at around 3.5%, while in areas around the oil fields, it drops even lower, to below 2%. Service industry employers, who in most cities would barely pay minimum wage, found quickly that they had to offer more competitive wages to stem the flow of employees to the oil fields, to the point a fast food cashier can make upto $15/hr.

In what was typically seen to be a man's occupation, women have been making their mark in the oil fields of N.D. CNN Money profiles six women who moved to N.D to make big money and pursue the American Dream.

Read the article, Boomtown Women, at CNN.com

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