Companies from low-jobless states recruit in Medford

The unemployment rate in Rock Springs, Wyo., ranges just above 5 percent. In Stark County, N.D., the jobless rate is 2.4 percent.

It doesn't take a math whiz to tell you that when companies are hiring in those communities the demand surpasses the labor supply.

Employment is so healthy in parts of Wyoming and North Dakota that natural resource firms are looking elsewhere for new recruits — including Medford, where double-digit unemployment remains a fact of life.

Halliburton, the global energy services corporation with outposts in about 80 countries, is filling 50 positions at its Rock Springs facility in southwest Wyoming. It sees Southern Oregon as a logical source to fill its oil field ranks.

The company is screening applicants online and then doing face-to-face interviews June 1-2.

"Medford also has a relevant work force demographic and comparable weather conditions to Rock Springs," Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee Agard said Wednesday. "Halliburton previously coordinated an event in Medford several years ago and we chose to revisit it for this hiring event because our Rock Springs district regularly receives resumes from people in Oregon."

She said anyone interested in jobs at Halliburton is encouraged to visit

Halliburton isn't alone in its desire to attract Oregonians to the other side of the Rockies.

Missouri Basin Well Service, an energy firm based in Belfield, N.D., a town of 800, is looking for tanker truck drivers and laborers to work at its two locations in northwest North Dakota.

"It's hard to find local drivers around here," said Trish Arndt, who works in the company's human resources department. "With all the work coming up, we try to go to other states where there is high unemployment to recruit drivers."

But what would it be like to live in Sweetwater County, Wyo., or Stark County, N.D.?

"It's high plains desert, people come here and they love it or hate it," said John Henning, who served stints as president of the Travel and Tourism Board and Lodging and Restaurant Association as well as tours of duty on the School Board and City Council during 21 years in Rock Springs.

The arid — 12 inches of annual precipitation — terrain contrasts with the Rogue Valley, but you if you journey to the top of a nearby ridge you can catch a glimpse of the Tetons to the northwest.

Drinking water comes from the Green River.

"We're 100 miles from the beginning of the Green River, so there is no agriculture operations up there to screw it up," said Henning. "It's all fresh and clean."

Halliburton has been a major presence in the town of just more than 23,000 along Interstate 80 that grew by 23 percent during the past decade, according to the latest U.S. Census.

"Seven or eight years ago, they built their Rocky Mountain Regional Center here," Henning said. "It's a huge facility and they run trucks and crews out of here all the way to North Dakota."

Becky Costantino, executive assistant to the mayor, has lived most of her life in Rock Springs.

"I've come and gone a few times, but Rock Springs just draws you back like a magnet," she said.

The boom-and-bust energy cycles have a way of doing that.

"We used to have 18,000 people and then grew to almost 30,000," she said. "Then it kind of died down a year and a half or two years ago."

"The town's slogan used to be, 'A great place to work andplay,' " said Sue Caudell, a member of the Chamber of Commerce staff, who couldn't remember the new one.

Henning said typical Halliburton workers don't get paid a great deal, perhaps $10 or $11 an hour on the lower end of the scale. But the annual pay adds up thanks to overtime.

"Depending on what area you work, you might be on call six days a week, take two or three off," Henning said. "It's very irregular and difficult on young families. A young mother with little ones finds out what it's like being a widow."

Still, he said, he's known Halliburton workers who adjusted to the grind and are nearing two decades with the company.

Up north, along Interstate 94, Arndt said Missouri Basin Well Service offers pay in the $17 to $20 range.

"Things have really picked up the last three to five years," she said. "It's pretty booming right now and they say it's going to last a good 30 years."

She said applicants can go to or call 701-575-8242.

Interviews are face-to-face or by Skype.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email

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