When I got home to my apartment in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota at 6:30 p.m., on this Monday, June 18, everything was very quiet. I opened all of the windows in my apartment, turned on my computer, checked my e-mails, looked at my Worpress blog, looked at Facebook, read the Dickinson Press Newspaper online, and everything continued to be quiet in my apartment building, the parking lot, and this downtown residential area.
I fell asleep in my lazy boy recliner chair from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., and I am just now waking up. This residential area is so quiet right now, that I can hear that there is not a single car driving on the main downtown street through Dickinson, Villard Street. Either directly on four-lane Villard Street, or one block north of Villard Street, there are twelve bars and restaurants, and about eight gas station convenience stores.
I am listening and trying to time it, and I am not hearing even one vehicle per five minutes on Villard Street. I have heard one car in the past fifteen minutes. Can you imagine how quiet that is, one car in fifteen minutes on the main street through downtown, at 11:30 p.m. on a Monday night?
I know why Dickinson is this quiet, it is a combination of about four different things. I read a newspaper article about a month ago, that said the population of North Dakota decreased from 2017 to 2018, there was a net out-migration of about 500 people. The total population of North Dakota is only about 750,000 people.
Despite what the business owners, real estate agents, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, business associations, elected representatives, and spokespeople say, the economy in western North Dakota has been slowing down since 2015, and it continues to do so.
In the Spring of 2018, there were newspaper articles and advertisements, radio announcements and advertisements, television reports and advertisements, trade journal articles and advertisements, telling people about the great need for workers in western North Dakota. The truth is, that all of these reports and advertisements about the need for workers in western North Dakota, did not match the reality of the actual number of job openings posted on North Dakota Job Services, the Dickinson Press newspaper, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, etcetera.
Yes, there was a need every week for a few CDL licensed drivers, experienced heavy equipment mechanics, electricians, experienced hydraulic fracturing operators, and laborers, but just a few, not a huge amount. Many of these job openings did not represent company growth or an expansion in business operations, but were job vacancies created by workers who quit and left North Dakota.
The truth is, that workers who are already living here or who come here, who can prove that they have experience welding, fabricating, operating heavy equipment, operating fracturing equipment, working on a drill rig, with a CDL license, or are a certified mechanic, they can probably find a job if they are in good health and have a clean driving record. But there is not a huge demand for workers.
I know experienced oil field workers living here in western North Dakota who have had difficulty in finding a job, and the jobs that they eventually accept are lower pay, sometimes much lower, than what they used to get paid. I know people over 50 years of age who have work experience in the oil field and in construction, who have a lot of difficulty in finding a job in western North Dakota.
In the past several years, I have seen many people with some college education, business experience, technical experience, construction experience, and oil field experience, decide to leave North Dakota, because of the combination of not very high pay, poor working conditions, cold weather, and overall unpleasant environment here. The people who have remained here in Dickinson after the oil boom ended in 2015, are mostly blue-collar trades people.
As I previously stated up above, there was an attempt this Spring by business owners, real estate agents, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, and government spokespeople, to entice and lure people here to North Dakota using announcements, news stories, and advertisements. Most of the people who responded to this and came to western North Dakota, were no-skilled, low-skilled, inexperienced, poor, uneducated, illegal drug users from cities in Washington State and California.
Initially, in this Spring of 2018 in downtown Dickinson, it was noisy and chaotic. The poor white-trash and poor blacks who recently arrived from the inner-cities of Washington State and California ran around and got into everything like insects that had recently hatched. In expectation of getting a high paying oil field job, these no-skilled, low-skilled uneducated inner-city people rented apartments, and behaved like they did where they came from.
These new arrivals from the inner-cities continued to use illegal drugs, sell illegal drugs, get high, get drunk, and drive recklessly around Dickinson. Little by little, bit by bit, the Dickinson Police arrested these new arrivals for possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, and DUI.
Once these no-skilled, low-skilled, uneducated inner-city people with criminal records and bad driving records found that they were unable to get a job working in the oil field, they began doing what they did in the inner-cities where they came from, sell drugs, steal, commit burglaries, and robberies.
Little by little, bit by bit, these inner-city people who arrived in Dickinson, most of them have either been stopped by the Dickinson Police multiple times, or they have been arrested. They are in jail awaiting trial, have posted bail and have fled the state, have calmed down because they don’t want to get stopped by the Police anymore, or they have moved away because of the Police and they can’t get a job.
What is very funny to me, is at the apartment building where I live in downtown Dickinson tonight, it is so quiet, such a contrast to the months of April, May, and the beginning of June. There is no one driving recklessly through the residential streets, there is no vehicle in the apartment building parking lot playing ghetto music, there is no one stopping by the apartment building to buy illegal drugs, there are no drug addicts wandering through the parking lot or the hallways.
The people all throughout this downtown neighborhood tonight, they have got their jobs to go to in the morning, they were all in for the night by 7:00 p.m., they had dinner, watched television, and went to bed. The people from Washington State and California, are mostly back where they came from, or locked in their jail cell.