With oil field cuts increasing, Texas contractors rush to hire and recruit laid off workers

A ConocoPhillips oil drilling rig in the Eagle Ford Shale.A ConocoPhillips oil drilling rig in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Many workers in South Texas are currently experiencing a bit of déjà vu.

During the recession, the U.S. construction industry lost about 2 million workers to layoffs and cuts, many of whom found steady, high-paying work in the oil and gas industry due to the fracking boom. And because so many found good work there and stayed put, and many other construction veterans retired altogether, 83 percent of U.S. construction firms are now reporting a skilled worker shortage.

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But with the recent steep decline in oil prices, things have reversed course in Texas where workers are being laid off from the Eagle Ford Shale, according to a report from News Radio 1200 WOAI. The radio station reports that workers are being offered jobs in construction, “as soon as they walk out of the oil patch with that pink slip in their hands.”

Associated General Contractors of San Antonio executive vice president Doug McMurray said that many contractors in the state are eager to hire those laid off from the oilfield because they are the “exact group of employees,” they’re looking for.

McMurray also noted that many contractors in Texas and around the country have turned down “profitable work,” because of the skilled worker shortage.

“Every day it seems there is an announcement about layoffs in the oil and gas industries,” he told the station. “”We would simply like to extend job offers to those who have been newly laid off.”

The AGC launched a website and is holding job fairs to entice not only laid off oil workers but also those who fear they might be laid off soon.