In today’s NY Times, we see an article which worries that people in Montana are forsaking college to work at $50,000/year jobs in the oil fields.
It is a lucrative but risky decision for any 18-year-old to make, one that could foreclose on his future if the frenzied pace of oil and gas drilling from here to North Dakota to Texas falters and work dries up.
The guy who wrote this (Jack Healy) obviously didn’t attempt to synchronize his message with the NY Times article from this weekend about how three girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds went to college but it didn’t work out so well for them. All they got out of college was a lot of debt.
Now, in theory, yes, it’s a lot better to have a good white-collar career track than to do manual labor in the oil fields. The oil companies will just fire these people when there’s no more oil or they can find cheaper labor (such as immigrants or robots).
But how many of these kids from Montana allegedly forsaking college to work in the oil fields have a realistic chance of getting into a good white-collar career track? Most would probably end up like the girl in the NY Times article who has $61,000 of student loan debt and is working at a furniture store for $8.50 an hour. This is especially true if they are only marginally college material or if their parents are working-class and unable to give them proper career and life guidance.