Oil layoffs hurting Kern County

Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 21:23:21-05

Oil prices are steadily, slowly rising but we're a far cry from being comfortable, and job cuts could continue throughout Kern County.

Oil experts say workers who have been laid off are leaving, unable to provide for themselves and their family. Mary Jane Wilson, President of Oil Consulting Company WZI Inc., said many are heading to Texas.

"So it's a technical drain on our community," Wilson said.

Companies like California Resources Corporation, Chevron and Halliburton slashed jobs. In the past 90 days, Hathaway LLC. cut 10-15% of their workforce.

For CEO Chad Hathaway, it's hard to watch. "It's just really hard when people in your family at work are suffering," saying he has two families one at work and one at home.

"The construction jobs, the drilling jobs... those are the ones that got decimated," Hathaway said. 

Without these major companies spending money, along with each employee tightening their budget, local groups like non profits suffer.

"It's hard to say no but when you're trying to keep your people going, that's your first priority," Hathaway said.

For every high paying oil job lost, 3.25 more jobs are lost. These are positions like those in food service and the entertainment industry.

Now experts are concerned these technically skilled workers won't ever come back to Kern County, even when the price of oil rises.

"I don't think it had enough time in this boom to really, it takes years to really understand a business to really understand an industry," Hathaway said.

Hathaway said he himself is an oddity in the business. He's almost 40 and said most of those in the industry are either young or at retirement age. He said now those older folks are being forced out with early retirement packages.

Wilson said to avoid losing these skilled workers in the future, they need to look at applying their abilities here in the county.