Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Western Slope Energy Field Cuts

Grand Junction - Layoffs and hiring freezes are rife across the energy fields in recent weeks as rigs are idled. Hours are being cut, workers demoted to positions with lower salaries, raises rescinded. Perks such as company trucks are being recalled. Small contract companies have packed up and moved back to the states they came from.

Oil and Gas has always been transient. When it came to the valley, I knew it was going to be flighty. There were some guys at the little store I worked at who packed in their jobs with this grocery chain to chase the money in the oil fields. One guy had 28 years with the store and was walking away from a serious pension he had been earning. I don't make a lot of money doing what I'm doing, but I am able to put 10% out of each paycheck into my 401(k), I have a pension that's accumulating, and I have decent health benefits. I thought briefly about trying for the oil game and even applied at Halliburton. I'm glad it didn't pan out.

In 2001, I was in my sixth year of recruiting for the high tech industry, and I knew, based on some phone calls I had with candidates, that the market was getting ready to collapse. The lesson I learned in that one is that you can't ride the big money bubble for too long, it will pop. Most of the money in high tech is what I now call Monopoly money. People ended up losing everything because they believed their stock options would pay off, and some did, but most didn't.

With as much paycheck money as I made in high tech, I was able to save enough to go back to school and get my Paralegal certificate. I don't work as a paralegal for several reasons. One of which certainly had to do with my inability to stop drinking. What I have found relatively late in life is that slow and steady wins the race. Right now my 401(k) is losing money, my groups pension plan is going to be declared in the red in April, my cost of living is increasing, and I have had to have some things done that have taken money from my regular savings accounts, and it hurts right now. However, what I do know, is that it will turn around. It always does. It really is hard to be right in the middle of it and trust the process of economic correction. It's almost as hard as trying to get sober and failing was...actually nothing has been that hard. But it will change if I stay on course and remember that I am doing what I'm doing for some really good, sound and healthy reasons, and if I trust the economic process, it will work out. History repeats itself. We have been through recessions and depressions before, and we have been okay in the end. It can be a bitch from day to day, but people need to keep focused on their goals, and all will be well in the end.

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