Energy workers search for jobs after layoffs

Posted at 7:41 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 20:41:16-04

In a South Tulsa conference room Wednesday, Kevin McRee talked with several employers. He drove 12 hours from Alabama to Tulsa, looking for a job.

McRee said last year he lost his job as an executive with a large company in Alabama.

"Not always easy to make that transition," he told one employer, when mentioning his layoff. 

Due to budget cuts, the veteran said contracts from the Department of Defense impacted his job in Alabama. With several years of executive experience, McRee is now struggling to find his next job and is applying for roles he is often overqualified for.

"You can't look at that," McRee said. "Right now if you're just trying to get your foot in the door, trying to get a resume that says here is 30 years of logistics and leadership to an HR person so you can actually get a foothold into a company."

The quarterly job fair hosted by Job News USA usually gathers 400 resumes. In January the number was closer to 600. On Wednesday a similar number was expected. 

Chase Murphy was at the the fair hiring for the Cherokee Nation.

"A lot of it is going to depend on what you want to do," Murphy told one perspective employee.

A percentage of the job seekers at the fair said they were attending because of the drop in oil prices over the past year.

"It still has a large gamut of people that we are seeing coming in, as far as ones that have been laid-off," Murphy said. "But of course given our location in Northeast Oklahoma we see a lot from the oil and gas industry."

At the Tulsa Regional Chamber the loss in energy jobs is noticeable.

"2570 jobs through the oil and gas industry," said Brien Thorstenberg, senior vice president of economic development. "But from a different stand-point, we have actually had announcements of 5700 jobs in other industry sectors."

With the price per barrel of oil sitting around $41, up from $26 in January, the oil industry is still in an unfortunate position. 

"Our economists estimates the price of oil per barrel would need to be in the $52 to 55 per barrel range in order to stabilize and get to zero growth in the oil and gas industry," Thorstenberg said. 

Which is why in the meantime, McRee is looking at many different lines of work, including outside the energy and manufacturing industries. 

"Recognize the economy and the job market is what it is," he said. "You never know what might shakeout and be a benefit."

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