Bringing the Economy Home

Jobless In Idaho: Promise Of Work In The Oilfields

Courtesy Allen Brown

Allen Brown is a single father with three teenage daughters. He lost his mill job in October, 2011.

Idaho’s economy is moving in a positive direction, but it still hasn’t made up for the jobs lost during the Great Recession.  Allen Brown got his layoff notice in the fall of 2011.  Now, at 44-years-old, he’s waiting to start a new career.  We check in with Brown for our continuing series Jobless In Idaho.

By the middle of February, Lewiston, Idaho resident Allen Brown had set his sights on work in the oilfields and was making plans to head to Wyoming for new job training.

Brown was laid off from the Clearwater Paper sawmill late last year.  After several weeks of job searching in Lewiston, Brown met with a recruiter for oil services giant Schlumberger.  He was promised a job as an electronic tech, commuting out of state, after his February interview.

Now, three months later, Brown hasn’t left for training camp.  He’s still waiting.

“I finally feel like I found a job and then all of a sudden it gets pulled out from under your feet,” Brown said recently.

U.S. Recruiting president Ron Garrison is a job recruiter for Schlumberger.  He’s sent more than 400 Idahoans to Schlumberger in the last year.   U.S. Recruiting is the same company that hooked Brown up with Schlumberger.  Garrison says he currently has about 50 people in his ‘inventory’ waiting to officially start work with the company.  That includes Brown.

Garrison couldn’t confirm why a hiring slowdown has occurred.  He guesses its because oil and natural gas prices have fallen.  Several calls to Schlumberger weren’t returned.

Back in February, Brown was told his start-date would be put on hold for 30 to 60 days. Last week, his recruiter called asking if he was still interested in the job and assured Brown he’d head to training within a month.  But Brown is a single father with three teenage daughters.  He couldn’t sit idle.

“To keep from bleeding all my savings away, I found a job up here in the area.  But it doesn’t pay like I was before, and it doesn’t even quite cover my monthly bills,” says Brown.  He’s earning about $12 an hour, about half of what he was earning at the sawmill and a fraction of what he’s been offered with Schlumberger. 

Brown is eager to start his new career.  He’s invested $1,500 in necessary tools he’ll need as an electronic tech for Schlumberger.  And now, as the job hold continues, he’s hopeful it hasn’t all been for naught.

“You kind of make plans,” says Brown.   “All of a sudden you have word, and a feeling you’ll get paid well.”  Brown’s job offer included a six-figure salary plus benefits.  “I loosened up my check book a little bit we bought some stuff, and I got some stuff prepared for going over there.  Now, it’s tightening up even tighter than it was before because I just don’t know whats going to happen here in the future.”

Click here to learn more about our series Jobless In Idaho.  To share your story of losing a job, finding a new one or struggling in between go to our Work In Progress news app.


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