Staffing problems in the Bakken


(Photo by James Ulvog)

While in Williston earlier this month, I saw the above sign in front of Wal-Mart saying they are paying $17 an hour to start. I hear starting pay for night stockers is $19 an hour.

My guess from what I heard while in town is $17 at Wal-Mart is the starting, minimum wage for new arrivals in town. With their staffing need, that might also be the first job upon arriving in town for lots of people.

The Williston Herald had a great article on employment issues in North Dakota: “Labor shortage forcing some restaurants to close”. The article was in the 10/17/14 paper but I couldn’t find it online.

The article says a Quiznos in Bismarck closed because they only had 3 staff but need 8 or 9. Bismarck is 3 1/2 hours from Williston, by the way. That means the town is a bit removed from the tumult of Williston.

The manager of the Bismarck Job Services said starting wages in Bismarck at restaurants are $11 to $14. You read that right – that’s starting wages.

The rest of the article quotes various managers in Bismarck complaining about the labor market. My perception is they don’t understand the changes in either pricing in the employment market or the perspectives of the next generation of employees.

In Williston I’ve heard that Grandma Sharon’s (a very popular restaurant) is closed for dinner because they can’t get enough staff.

I ate a late lunch at Grandma Sharon’s a year ago (10/13). It is a nice restaurant with reasonable prices. I understand it was usually packed at lunchtime.


(Poorly framed photo by James Ulvog)

I had bad news – – I know the solution:

Increase hourly wages a lot and increase food prices.

Like I said – bad news. But it is the solution.

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