When the price of gas started dropping below 2 dollars a gallon, all the economic analysts were saying it was bad news for the economy, and this week it really seemed that their predictions started to come true.
Halliburton, Baker-Hughes, Schlumberger and BP have all announced that they’re slashing jobs in the Houston area.
Baker-Hughes says it will lay off 7,000 workers. The other companies are keeping mum about exactly how many local jobs are going to get cut.
But pink slips are going out.
So where do all of these displaced energy workers go?
Tim Jeffcoat was laid off from Schulmberger in 2001 and now he’s the district director of the small business association in Houston.
He says people in the energy sector have skills that transfer easily to other industries,
“There are certain sectors that are really dynamic, healthcare, transportation,” but he says the knowledge acquired in the field can turn into to a consulting gig, “say an engineer that works for one of these firms that has a lot of experience in petroleum engineering might want to set up a consulting shop and do business with companies in other countries.”
But if you want to cut your ties form energy completely, you can follow Christi Johnson Lopez’s lead. She worked for a natural gas company that was acquired by Kinder Morgan 18 months ago. When she got laid off she decided to start her own interior design company.
She says the transition is scary, but ultimately worth it. “At that very moment it is so scary, you can’t even think beyond oh the severance package, what are we going to do, how are we going to save, how are we going to do this, and all of a sudden you’re like maybe I can try this, what do I have to lose? Let me just take this little leap,” says Johnson Lopez.
She says she doesn’t make nearly as much as she used to, but she sets her own schedule and her stress migraines went away.
Based on what the experts say, laid of energy sector employees should look to fields like healthcare or transportation, or they can take the opportunity to cut their ties from the energy industry altogether – if they can afford it.