Current Indicators Of A Work Slow Down In Dickinson, North Dakota

On Wednesday February 15 at 8:30 p.m., I went to the new Family Fare Grocery store in Dickinson, North Dakota that opened in approximately 2015.  I would estimate that the shopping area in this grocery store is 300 ft long x 200 ft wide, pretty big.  In the parking lot there were about ten vehicles.  While shopping inside, I saw two other customers.  When I went to check out, none of the cash registers had a light on, and there were no cashiers on duty, not one.  This is the first grocery store that I have ever been to in my life that did not have a least one cash register open and one cashier on duty.  Keep in mind that it was now 8:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and it was a good weather night, not cold and not snowing.

I went through a self-check out line to pay for my groceries.  On the way out, I looked to see if they had anyone working at their coffee shop, and there was not a soul around.  At the old Family Fare Grocery store beside Runnings, and at this new Family Fare Grocery store near Menards, I had noticed that through the latter part of 2016 and into 2017, these two stores began to minimize their staff more and more.  But not having even one cashier on duty seemed very drastic.

But if I think back a little further, the Family Fare Grocery store and the Wal-Mart in Dickinson had both been open 24 hours a day up until approximately the end of 2015.  I can remember when there used to be a long line at the check out in the Family Fare Grocery store in Dickinson at 8:30 p.m. on a week night.  I can remember when there were more shoppers in the Family Fare Grocery store in Dickinson at 2:00 a.m., than there are now at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday afternoon February 11th, I had to go to the Ace Hardware store in Dickinson.  I regretted that I had not gone there during the week, I thought that the store would be crowded and very busy on Saturday.  When I got there, I thought that the store must have closed at noon or something, because there were no cars in the parking lot, and hardly any cars in the parking spaces in front of the store.  The store wasn’t closed.  There were only two customers inside.  Since 2011 when I first came to Dickinson, I have never seen the Ace Hardware parking lot anywhere near that vacant.

In the same shopping center where the Ace Hardware store is located, there is the King Buffet Chinese restaurant.  This has been one of the most popular restaurants in Dickinson for the past several years because it is all-you-can-eat, it is not expensive, they have a variety of food, and the food is pretty good.  In approximately 2014 this restaurant nearly doubled its size by expanding into the adjacent business spaces.  Driving by the King Buffet Chinese restaurant this past week after 8:00 p.m., the parking lot was nearly vacant, there were hardly any customers.

Throughout Dickinson, the local people who own homes here, keep saying, “The oil field work is picking up again, it is coming back.”  I see no evidence for this, the evidence shows the exact opposite.  I hate and dislike local people saying, “The oil field work is picking up again, it is coming back.”, because this is an outright lie, meant to keep people here and prevent the real estate prices from collapsing.  I don’t like people trying to lie to and trick other people for financial gain.

The only thing that I see happening, is oil production continuing at current levels, and the people involved in maintaining the current level of production keeping their jobs.  I believe that for the next several years, the number of oil well drill rigs operating in North Dakota will be between 40 to 80 drill rigs.  I don’t see any reason for a mad rush to drill as many oil wells as possible as quickly as possible, because a great number of oil wells being completed and coming into production at the same time would make an oversupply of oil, and cause an oil price drop that would make each of the new oil wells not profitable.  It seems obvious at this point, due to the current low price of oil, that oversupply of oil makes oil wells not profitable.

Because of the steady rate of oil production, and 40 to 80 drill rigs operating, there will not be a huge demand for new workers in the oil field in North Dakota in the next several years.  Many workers will not have the opportunity to work a great deal of overtime hours.  Pay will not be as high as it had been during the oil boom years of 2007 through 2015.  The decrease in pay, the decrease in the demand for housing, and people leaving the area due to the inability to find replacement jobs when jobs are lost, will make the price of housing decrease.  My guess would be that the price of housing in Dickinson will decrease 10% by the end of 2017.

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