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Go west, young man or woman

Remember when Uncle Jed struck oil while shootin’ at some food? He hit it rich, moved west to Beverly Hills and life around the cement pond was never the same with Ellie Mae’s critters and all. Now, the oil boom migration is northwest to North Dakota thanks to the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations. The underground motherlode which stretches 200,000 square miles was first found on land owned by Henry Bakken. Most likely he is now neighbors with Jed, Granny and the Drysdales and sipping bubbly with Jane Hathaway. In North Dakota, companies are using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling techniques to get to oil ‘“ huge quantities of oil that we have been buying at outrageous prices from a bunch of Muslims who mostly hate our guts. Since the boom started in 2008, only 244 million barrels of the oil deposit estimated at 6.5 billion barrels have been extracted. This boom is going to last awhile. The oil is flowing, profits are dizzying and folks are migrating to North Dakota for jobs ‘“ good jobs ‘“ by the thousands. In two years, the population of the Roughrider State grew by four percent in just two years to near 700,000. Keep in mind the U.S. population grew only 1.7 % over the same period and the population of the Atlanta metropolitan area alone is 5.45 million. The epicenter of the oil boom is Williston, N.D. Oil workers there earn an average of $112,462 ‘“ no college degree required. The state as a whole has 22,000 more jobs than it has people looking for work. McDonald’s has to offer $300 signon bonuses to potential burger flippers. Walmart pays cashiers $17.50 per hour ‘“ double the normal rate in the rest of the country. People are flocking there so quickly that housing demand has not kept up. The average rent on a two-bedroom home has soared from $500 to $2,500. One man possessing not even a high school diploma arrived and immediately locked up a construction job at $18 per hour on his first day in town. He lives in an old plantation house (I didn’t know they had those in North Dakota) with 25 other men and pays $600 per month. Before thou dost protest too much, remember this is capitalism at work. It is much preferable to socialism. People are working as they were designed to do. The housing situation will catch up eventually. No housing projects will be needed. So, if you are a young man or woman looking for a life-changing opportunity, here it is. But, take a coat and some long underwear. The average July high temperature is a pleasant 84 degrees but the lows average in the single digits in December through February and below freezing in March, April, October and November. At 100 grand per year, you’ll get used to the cold. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of the Herald Gazette.

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