With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, Oklahoma City's job market is well-positioned to absorb many of the 640 workers laid off from Chesapeake Energy Corp.
However, workers in some career fields will have an easier time finding new jobs than others, job recruiters said.
While Oklahoma City's oil and gas sector remains strong, workers in highly specialized fields such as petroleum land management, geosciences and engineering may be forced to consider relocating to a new city to find work, said Christopher Melillo, managing partner for the Dallas-based executive recruiter Kaye/Bassman International Corp.
“The market in Oklahoma City is going to become somewhat flooded,” Melillo said. “There have been a couple of companies in Oklahoma City that have been in growth mode, but not at the level of Chesapeake.”
Chesapeake has typically paid its employees more than some of its local competitors, and laid-off workers might be forced to take a pay cut to stay in Oklahoma City, he said.
Relocation for some
Melillo, who specializes in recruiting for energy sector companies, said that job seekers who are willing to relocate to cities with strong oil and gas job markets such as Houston, Denver and Midland, Texas, will be more likely to find new positions quickly.
“This is the largest anticipated layoff from an energy company in a number of years,” Melillo said of the Chesapeake layoffs. “It's going to have somewhat of a ripple effect.”
Chesapeake Energy CEO Doug Lawler said in an interview with The Oklahoman Tuesday that employees laid off from Chesapeake will probably have no problem finding work in the thriving energy sector, but hinted that some affected workers would likely have to consider leaving Oklahoma City.
“I see the industry as continuing to grow and having a significant presence with the energy needs in the United States,” Lawler said. “While Oklahoma City is very strong, there are also other very strong markets in the U.S. I believe all those employees will have opportunities to find work elsewhere.”