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Entry-Level Jobs Pay Six Figures In This Gritty Part Of America

Entry-Level Jobs Pay Six Figures In This Gritty Part Of America

Authored by John Haughey via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Josef McConnell,…



Entry-Level Jobs Pay Six Figures In This Gritty Part Of America

Authored by John Haughey via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Josef McConnell, a tennis coach from Southern California, had been unemployed for a year after the government response to the pandemic destroyed his business. Then, in 2021, a friend told him that there were good-paying jobs to be had in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

He knew nothing of oilfields, never heard of the Bakken Basin, nor, for that matter, could he say much about North Dakota other than he believed the state to be a cold, flat flyover tundra with corn and cows somewhere near Canada that had previously been “100 percent not on my mind.”

Nevertheless, Mr. McConnell said, “I picked up everything and left. It was do-or-die.”

He quickly secured a job laboring at SandPro, a sand, wellhead, and automation management start-up in Berthold, west of Minot. As promised, good-paying jobs were available. As promised, they were muscle jobs, dirty jobs, and long-shift jobs.

He was “cleaning iron, tearing things apart,” disassembling and rebuilding “frack trees’ that cap fracked—hydraulically fractured—oil wells. It was hard, gritty work, 12 hours a day, for weeks at a time in an industrial beehive down the road and across the highway from downtown Berthold, a towering grain elevator looming as its landmark above bald grassy ridges and cottonwood-framed creek beds.

But the money was fantastic and, it dawned on him that “this could be a career, not just a job,” Mr. McConnell said.

“I told myself that if I couldn’t make it through the first winter, this is not for me. I survived. It sucked, but I survived,” he said. “From there on, I tried to learn everything I could. I wanted to know how it worked, what it did. I cross-trained into all the aspects of the business.”

As SandPro grew, Mr. McConnell, 33, was appointed night-shift supervisor. Last December, he ascended to shop manager. In August, he became a homeowner. “I’d never be able to do that in California,” he said.

While the 2006–2014 Bakken Play shale boom is over, and the days when oil rigs were anchored on the prairie like ships on seas of waving wheat are long gone, North Dakota’s oil industry has rebounded from its pandemic-induced slump. A sense of steady has settled in.

Josef McConnell, a shop manager at SandPro, poses for a picture in his office in Tioga, N.D., on Dec. 19, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Right now, an able-bodied unskilled laborer willing to learn and capable of working long and hard can still land a $115,000 entry-level job with room and board and nearly five months off on an oil rig site or with a growing number of independent contractors and start-up oilfield service companies in western North Dakota.

Right now, the Bakken is where stories like Mr. McConnell’s aren’t stories but invitations. It’s where an Arizona cosmetologist can monitor a rig gate while looking to buy her first home, where a New Jersey geologist can build a company that employs 300 to revive a community where she’s hailed as a hometown hero, where a “disgruntled” airman from Cincinnati can carve a niche and expand it into a broadening entrepreneurial enterprise.

The rush is over, and now we’re seeing a maturing of the play,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a 1998 graduate of Dickinson High School who recalls having to—and being able to—stand in the middle of highways to get cellphone reception before the oil boom.

As is typical with a “maturing of the play,” most corporate players have moved on. In their wake, new players have emerged: first-time independent contractors and serial entrepreneurs, many under 40, most building local businesses, buying homes, starting families, and growing communities.

For them, fast money is fine, but sustainable “systemic growth” is preferable, with perfected-in-North-Dakota advances in fracking spurring pioneering innovations in lateral drilling.

This is a time of great technological advancements,” North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said.

The 31 rigs operating in North Dakota in late December were pumping 1.25 million barrels of shale oil per day to nearly 19,000 wells, a per-rig production that is “a vast improvement” over past proficiency benchmarks, he said.

With lateral drilling in the Bakken expected to extend beyond four miles by early 2024, “the timeline to drill wells has been compressed” and “opened up a whole new area of the Bakken than was formerly known,” a shale play “we are going to take this technology to and earn from.”

North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness in Bismarck, N.D., on Dec. 18, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Post-Boom Boon

Spearheading the Bakken’s post-boom boon are “smaller companies,” Mr. Ness said. “We’ve got so many, typically led by younger people who were working for these larger international service companies, found a niche, and started their own businesses.”

With oil prices expected to hover in the $70-to-$85 per barrel “sweet spot,” demand for North Dakota oil is projected to grow moderately for the foreseeable future.

“It’s better than the boom,” SandPro Vice President Joshua Blackaby said. “You want steady work and that’s where we’re at right now. And one of the distinctive things about what’s going on here now is it’s a lot of small companies, a lot of entrepreneurs.”

According to the North Dakota Job Service, the 31 rigs directly employ 50,000 people with about 35,000 working in field and technical services and about 15,000 toiling directly on sites.

As of mid-December, more than 3,000 oilfield-related jobs were vacant.

For the small farming and ranching prairie towns overwhelmed during the boom, infill ambitions spur new commercial construction, revitalized Main streets, and growing schools, with new homes being purchased by 20- and 30-something-year-olds.

Dave Feldner removes grease and cleans gears within a drilling wellhead at SandPro in Tioga, N.D., on Dec. 19, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

“Building schools, building homes, growing communities rather than tearing them down? I think there’s lots of success stories here,” Mr. Ness said.

“Now, you have an opportunity to grow a life,” Mr. Armstrong said. “That’s a story we are proud to tell.”

For the independent-inclined, there’s ample opportunity for enterprise, Mr. Blackaby said.

“If you have any ambition at all, move to North Dakota,” he said. “There’s so much work to be had here. It’s such a business-friendly state and the opportunities … the sky’s the limit.”

In the Field

Julie Byron, 33, from Tucson, Arizona, is working in a gate shack with two heaters at her feet. Only those on the crew can gain entry to the Hess rig without checking in with her.

A cosmetologist “doing pull-tabs at the Legion,” she’d lived in Williston since 2013 but never considered working in the Bakken until a manager suggested she apply for a job with Neset Consulting Services, a Tioga-based company that provides gate monitors, roustabout crews, field medics, mud-loggers, and geologists for oil rig sites.

Since August, she’s been working seven days on and seven days off in shifts tailored to her needs as a single mother.

Julie Byron, a gate guard with Neset Consulting Service, at her desk in Tioga, N.D., on Dec. 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

It’s fascinating, Ms. Byron said. “This is first time I’m seeing what’s really going on. I said to myself, ‘OK, we’re going to learn this. We’re going to turn this into an opportunity,’” she said. “It’s cool to know the background—the geology, infrastructure, the different jobs—and understand it.”

She is looking to buy a home in 2024. She still works as a cosmetologist and “does pull-tabs at the Legion” during off-weeks.

It’s just me starting over. I’m still figuring this out at 33 years old,” Ms. Byron said. “Was it worth it? One-hundred percent.”

Ron Budd, 34, delivery services coordinator for Minot-based Creedence Energy Services’ Williston office, moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to North Dakota in 2010 when his stepfather got a job with Haliburton.

“I was pretty young and didn’t really have it figured out. I was just kind of day-by-day, dead-end jobs,” he recalled. “The job I was working before I came up here was at McDonald’s. I thought of it as hard work. Now, not so much.”

Mr. Budd said “financial opportunity” became his “driving force to fully commit” to the oilfield. He no longer works directly in the field, but the commitment has panned out, said the father of two.

“Knowing I could do better for my kids than what I had, knowing that I can have things that no one else in my family has, I buckled down and committed,” Mr. Budd said, noting he has purchased his own home. “Out of my immediate family, I’m the only one that owns a home.”

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Tyler Durden Wed, 01/03/2024 - 19:40

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Angry Shouting Aside, Here’s What Biden Is Running On

Angry Shouting Aside, Here’s What Biden Is Running On

Last night, Joe Biden gave an extremely dark, threatening, angry State of the Union…



Angry Shouting Aside, Here's What Biden Is Running On

Last night, Joe Biden gave an extremely dark, threatening, angry State of the Union address - in which he insisted that the American economy is doing better than ever, blamed inflation on 'corporate greed,' and warned that Donald Trump poses an existential threat to the republic.

But in between the angry rhetoric, he also laid out his 2024 election platform - for which additional details will be released on March 11, when the White House sends its proposed budget to Congress.

To that end, Goldman Sachs' Alec Phillips and Tim Krupa have summarized the key points:


While railing against billionaires (nothing new there), Biden repeated the claim that anyone making under $400,000 per year won't see an increase in their taxes.  He also proposed a 21% corporate minimum tax, up from 15% on book income outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% (which would promptly be passed along to consumers in the form of more inflation). Goldman notes that "Congress is unlikely to consider any of these proposals this year, they would only come into play in a second Biden term, if Democrats also won House and Senate majorities."

Biden also called on Congress to restore the pandemic-era child tax credit.


Instead of simply passing a slew of border security Executive Orders like the Trump ones he shredded on day one, Biden repeated the lie that Congress 'needs to act' before he can (translation: send money to Ukraine or the US border will continue to be a sieve).

As immigration comes into even greater focus heading into the election, we continue to expect the Administration to tighten policy (e.g., immigration has surged 20pp the last 7 months to first place with 28% in Gallup’s “most important problem” survey). As such, we estimate the foreign-born contribution to monthly labor force growth will moderate from 110k/month in 2023 to around 70-90k/month in 2024. -GS


Biden, with House Speaker Mike Johnson doing his best impression of a bobble-head, urged Congress to pass additional assistance for Ukraine based entirely on the premise that Russia 'won't stop' there (and would what, trigger article 5 and WW3 no matter what?), despite the fact that Putin explicitly told Tucker Carlson he has no further ambitions, and in fact seeks a settlement.

As Goldman estimates, "While there is still a clear chance that such a deal could come together, for now there is no clear path forward for Ukraine aid in Congress."


Biden, forgetting about all the aggressive tariffs, suggested that Trump had been soft on China, and that he will stand up "against China's unfair economic practices" and "for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."


Lastly, Biden proposed to expand drug price negotiations to 50 additional drugs each year (an increase from 20 outlined in the IRA), which Goldman said would likely require bipartisan support "even if Democrats controlled Congress and the White House," as such policies would likely be ineligible for the budget "reconciliation" process which has been used in previous years to pass the IRA and other major fiscal party when Congressional margins are just too thin.

So there you have it. With no actual accomplishments to speak of, Biden can only attack Trump, lie, and make empty promises.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2024 - 18:00

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United Airlines adds new flights to faraway destinations

The airline said that it has been working hard to "find hidden gem destinations."



Since countries started opening up after the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, airlines have been seeing demand soar not just for major global cities and popular routes but also for farther-away destinations.

Numerous reports, including a recent TripAdvisor survey of trending destinations, showed that there has been a rise in U.S. traveler interest in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam as well as growing tourism traction in off-the-beaten-path European countries such as Slovenia, Estonia and Montenegro.

Related: 'No more flying for you': Travel agency sounds alarm over risk of 'carbon passports'

As a result, airlines have been looking at their networks to include more faraway destinations as well as smaller cities that are growing increasingly popular with tourists and may not be served by their competitors.

The Philippines has been popular among tourists in recent years.


United brings back more routes, says it is committed to 'finding hidden gems'

This week, United Airlines  (UAL)  announced that it will be launching a new route from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Morocco's Marrakesh. While it is only the country's fourth-largest city, Marrakesh is a particularly popular place for tourists to seek out the sights and experiences that many associate with the country — colorful souks, gardens with ornate architecture and mosques from the Moorish period.

More Travel:

"We have consistently been ahead of the curve in finding hidden gem destinations for our customers to explore and remain committed to providing the most unique slate of travel options for their adventures abroad," United's SVP of Global Network Planning Patrick Quayle, said in a press statement.

The new route will launch on Oct. 24 and take place three times a week on a Boeing 767-300ER  (BA)  plane that is equipped with 46 Polaris business class and 22 Premium Plus seats. The plane choice was a way to reach a luxury customer customer looking to start their holiday in Marrakesh in the plane.

Along with the new Morocco route, United is also launching a flight between Houston (IAH) and Colombia's Medellín on Oct. 27 as well as a route between Tokyo and Cebu in the Philippines on July 31 — the latter is known as a "fifth freedom" flight in which the airline flies to the larger hub from the mainland U.S. and then goes on to smaller Asian city popular with tourists after some travelers get off (and others get on) in Tokyo.

United's network expansion includes new 'fifth freedom' flight

In the fall of 2023, United became the first U.S. airline to fly to the Philippines with a new Manila-San Francisco flight. It has expanded its service to Asia from different U.S. cities earlier last year. Cebu has been on its radar amid growing tourist interest in the region known for marine parks, rainforests and Spanish-style architecture.

With the summer coming up, United also announced that it plans to run its current flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Portugal's Porto more frequently at different points of the week and reach four weekly flights between Los Angeles and Shanghai by August 29.

"This is your normal, exciting network planning team back in action," Quayle told travel website The Points Guy of the airline's plans for the new routes.

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Walmart launches clever answer to Target’s new membership program

The retail superstore is adding a new feature to its Walmart+ plan — and customers will be happy.



It's just been a few days since Target  (TGT)  launched its new Target Circle 360 paid membership plan. 

The plan offers free and fast shipping on many products to customers, initially for $49 a year and then $99 after the initial promotional signup period. It promises to be a success, since many Target customers are loyal to the brand and will go out of their way to shop at one instead of at its two larger peers, Walmart and Amazon.

Related: Walmart makes a major price cut that will delight customers

And stop us if this sounds familiar: Target will rely on its more than 2,000 stores to act as fulfillment hubs. 

This model is a proven winner; Walmart also uses its more than 4,600 stores as fulfillment and shipping locations to get orders to customers as soon as possible.

Sometimes, this means shipping goods from the nearest warehouse. But if a desired product is in-store and closer to a customer, it reduces miles on the road and delivery time. It's a kind of logistical magic that makes any efficiency lover's (or retail nerd's) heart go pitter patter. 

Walmart rolls out answer to Target's new membership tier

Walmart has certainly had more time than Target to develop and work out the kinks in Walmart+. It first launched the paid membership in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, when many shoppers sheltered at home but still required many staples they might ordinarily pick up at a Walmart, like cleaning supplies, personal-care products, pantry goods and, of course, toilet paper. 

It also undercut Amazon  (AMZN)  Prime, which costs customers $139 a year for free and fast shipping (plus several other benefits including access to its streaming service, Amazon Prime Video). 

Walmart+ costs $98 a year, which also gets you free and speedy delivery, plus access to a Paramount+ streaming subscription, fuel savings, and more. 

An employee at a Merida, Mexico, Walmart. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

If that's not enough to tempt you, however, Walmart+ just added a new benefit to its membership program, ostensibly to compete directly with something Target now has: ultrafast delivery. 

Target Circle 360 particularly attracts customers with free same-day delivery for select orders over $35 and as little as one-hour delivery on select items. Target executes this through its Shipt subsidiary.

We've seen this lightning-fast delivery speed only in snippets from Amazon, the king of delivery efficiency. Who better to take on Target, though, than Walmart, which is using a similar store-as-fulfillment-center model? 

"Walmart is stepping up to save our customers even more time with our latest delivery offering: Express On-Demand Early Morning Delivery," Walmart said in a statement, just a day after Target Circle 360 launched. "Starting at 6 a.m., earlier than ever before, customers can enjoy the convenience of On-Demand delivery."

Walmart  (WMT)  clearly sees consumers' desire for near-instant delivery, which obviously saves time and trips to the store. Rather than waiting a day for your order to show up, it might be on your doorstep when you wake up. 

Consumers also tend to spend more money when they shop online, and they remain stickier as paying annual members. So, to a growing number of retail giants, almost instant gratification like this seems like something worth striving for.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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