Oil industry layoffs in Kern County affecting families

Former consultant works two jobs waiting tables
Posted at 2:31 PM, Mar 05, 2015
and last updated 2017-03-06 13:45:56-05

As the oil industry continues to cut jobs, more and more families are struggling to make ends meet.

To give you an idea of how many jobs are at stake, Baker Hughes planned to let go 7,000 employees.

According to Forbes, companies like Shell, Pemex, Halliburton and Suncor together will take out at least 31,000 jobs in North America.

23ABC contacted the Western States Petroleum Association, the Kern County Clerk, the Employer Training Resource and the California Unemployment Agency to find out how that number translates locally, but there are no solid numbers yet.

Nat Gholz, a former oil consultant, said consulting jobs are the first to go when oil prices drop. He was laid off about two months ago.

Since then, his daily routine has drastically changed. Gholz used to wake up on a drilling rig for two weeks every month, attend a safety meeting at 5:30 a.m. then inspect drilling fluid and go about his day of work.

Now he wakes up almost as early to get three of his four young daughters ready for school. The most time the family spends together is in the morning.

At the breakfast table Gholz and his girls practice vocabulary, spelling and math flash cards. Then it's off to school. 

"That is one of the upsides, to be able to be home and be a family man and see how the rest of the world lives, working 9 to 5," Gholz said.

Gholz has a wife and four young daughters and used to be their sole provider, which he says he took pride in. Now his wife is back at work and the girls had to stop their homeschooling to attend public school.

Gholz has kept busy, just not in oil. He took up two jobs waiting tables, one at Moo Creamery and another at The Padre. His ten plus hour days and one day a week off can get tough. His girls aren't too fond of his schedule.

"Almost every day, on Saturday, or sometimes Monday he gets a day off," his oldest daughter said. 

While he works many more hours, his pay is not nearly what it used to be. Gholz went from making six figures to mid-fives.

Gholz said the situation is hard but stays positive. He says 2009 was worse. 

He said at that time, he and his wife had two young girls, a newborn and had just bought a house. The price of oil dropped and he was dropped off the payroll.

Though he got a job with BMW to try to make ends meet, they ended up losing the house and a significant amount of money.

Nine months later he was back in oil as a consultant. Gholz said though the oil industry is volatile, he said the highs are too good to give up. 

He and his wife hope in a few months oil will rise steadily so he can go back to the job that he loves and be able to provide more opportunities for his family.


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