Older workers adapt amid oil industry slump

An oil industry executive who was laid off months ago is taking new measures to move on with his life.

An oil industry executive laid off months ago is selling his house and becoming a security guard.

It’s the type of reality thousands of others are also facing, and experts say it may never get easier for older workers.

“I’m looking at all of the options to pay the bills,” said Mike Brown, who lost his job as an oil company vice president six months ago.

He put his townhome on the market this week.

“I was going to be here for the next 20 years, probably,” he added.

It’s just one of the things he’s doing to try and survive the slump.

“Next week, I’m going to take a course to get my commission 3 license to be an armed guard,” said Brown.

RELATED: Oil prices fall after prediction of lower demand growth

Employment in oil and gas is at a five-year low, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. In Houston alone, there were 85,500 jobs in July of this year.

That’s a 13 percent drop from July of 2015 and a 20 percent dip from the five-year high of 110,600 jobs in 2014.

“It’s very, very challenging,” said Gladney Darroh of recruiting firm Piper-Morgan Associates. “Probably the most challenging market since I’ve been in business – and that’s 40 years.”

Darroh believes new data suggests the industry may re-tool during this prolonged slow period.

“And many of the older workers who’ve been laid off will not be coming back in the industry,” said Darroh.

Despite the bad news, Darroh said there are still individual opportunities that crop up, including consulting.

“You never know from which avenue the right opportunity will come,” said Darroh.

Brown told us he’s learning that the hard way.

“That’s why I’m prepared to do other things in the meantime and see what happens with the industry,” he said.

Brown is part of a weekly meeting of laid off oil and gas folks.

He said those meetings get larger every week.


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