Basin Workers Hoping to Get Behind the Wheel

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

It's an industry quickly gaining popularity. With the downturning economy, more and more displaced workers are ready to get behind the wheel. The trucking industry has been described as recession-proof, but as the West Texas oil and gas industry changes, so are even the most steady jobs.

It may not be the most glamorous, but it's certainly the most popular.

"I've seen a dramatic increase of truck drivers looking for jobs," Richard Minnix with McClatchy Bros. Inc. said.

Right now, national and local companies are seeing a spike in oil and gas industry workers looking for a new career.

"We probably get anywhere from 3-5 calls a day and probably that many people that come through the door just making a cold call looking for a job," Minnix said.

And now those companies can be a little more picky about who they hire.

"4-5 months ago, if I had a guy show up 4 days out of the week, I was happy," Minnix said. "I mean, I wasn't happy about it, but I had to have him."

Permian Basin Workforce Solutions says their offices are flooded with West Texans out of work.

"Truck driving jobs, that's something we would say is recession-proof," Willie Taylor with Workforce Solutions, said.

But over at McClatchy Bros. Trucking in Midland, that's just not the case.

"It's slowed down a great deal," Minnix said. "With the decrease in drilling, businesses like mine have slowed down quite a bit."

It's a catch 22. Even though there are plenty of truck driver applicants, there's no place for them to work.

"In this market, everybody is having a hard time," Minnix said.

"Truck driving doesn't pay the wages like you'd see coming out of the oil and gas industry, you know, $1,000 a week," Taylor said.

"When they come in, they're just looking for anything," Minnix said. "They're willing to start whenever, just to have some income coming in."