Thursday, April 2, 2015

Williston Region (The Bakken) With More Job Openings Than Last Year At This Time -- April 2, 2015

Huge jobs report. In the "old days" -- two months ago -- a strong jobs report would have scuttled the stock market due to fears of a rate increase by the Fed. What did the market do today with unemployment claims dropping far below expectations? The market surges. Well, sort of. But it is up 100 points. Something tells me the movers and shakers are trading the market with a Fed rate increase already baked in.

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment or financial decisions based on anything you read here or think you may have read here..

The incredible drop in unemployment claims certainly raises questions about all those doom and gloom stories of 100,000 jobs lost in the oil and gas sector. USA Today is reporting:
Planned oil industry layoffs in the U.S. are approaching 100,000 in the past four months with more likely to come.
Oil-producing states such as North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana are catching the brunt of the cutbacks just as consumers are enjoying cheaper gasoline prices brought on by the 55% drop in crude oil prices since last June.
"The entire Midwest from Texas to North Dakota is really feeling the effects," says Moody's Analytics economist Aaron Smith.
About 91,000 energy-related job cuts have been made public since early December, says Continental Resources, the Oklahoma City-based oil producer, which has been tracking companies' layoff announcements by the week.
They came from oil exploration and production companies, oilfield services companies and manufacturers, such as U.S. Steel, that supply them. Some cuts have occurred, and most are expected this year.
So, what is the job situation in the Bakken? Hold onto your hats. Reuters is reporting:
There are 1,706 job openings in the Williston region, 350 more than a year ago. Despite the sliding oil prices, job openings actually rose in February from January, according to Job Service data.
Old story? Nope, March 12, 2015. 

What's going on? You know all those wells in the Bakken? They don't run on their own; lots of maintenance.

Continuing with the linked story:
Halliburton Co, Schlumberger, and other large energy companies were conspicuously absent from a major North Dakota job fair this week, a telling sign as employers in the No. 2 U.S. oil-producing state grapple with sliding crude prices.
Instead of roustabouts, the state's oil industry wants pump technicians, gas-processing plant operators and truck drivers to help sustain existing production of 1.2 million barrels of oil per day - not to necessarily grow production. 
"When a well is out, you still have to service it," said Cindy Sanford of Job Service North Dakota, which helped organize the two-day job fair in Williston, capital of the state's oil boom. (There are almost 13,000 active wells in the state.) 
The change in job type highlights the anxiety many oil producers and their service providers feel as they try to weather a more than 50 percent drop in crude prices since last summer. Halliburton was a key participant in last year's Williston job fair. Today, it's all but stopped regional hiring. 
Contractors and local schools and water districts, among others, are offsetting the drop in oilfield employment as they hire in tandem with a rise in the region's population.
"People are coming here and staying here, and if they get laid off, they're cross-training for a new job," Sanford said. 
I didn't want to post this story yesterday -- "the Williston region with more job openings than last year" -- folks would have thought it an April Fools' joke. 

It's interesting. The oil industry in North Dakota will probably pay more attention to improving producing wells than they did in the past.

RadioShack Is Dead

The WSJ is reporting:
After a brush with liquidation last week, a reimagined version of the chain will debut later in April under the ownership of hedge fund Standard General LP with an assist from Sprint Corp.
According to plans filed with the bankruptcy court, the stores will look a lot like the streamlined outlets RadioShack Corp. had hoped to build before running short on cash earlier this year. The stores’ top management will also have a new face after chief executive Joe Magnacca, hired two years ago to remake the company into a flashy specialty retailer, resigned this week.
Sales of cellphones, a crucial traffic driver that nevertheless had long since stopped being very profitable for the chain, will be outsourced to Sprint. To reduce clutter, products like laptops, tablets and digital cameras will be cut back, as will name brands that don’t have much of a following. That will leave RadioShack to focus on higher margin house-brand chargers, batteries and speakers.
Wow, I love American capitalism. 

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