Back in March, we brought you “Drugs, Prostitution, Violence Plague Oil Boom Towns Gone Bust,” in which we detailed the plight of towns like Sidney and Bainville, Montana, where the slump in oil revenue has made it all but impossible for local authorities to cope with surging crime rates that some attribute to the influx of oil workers the communities experienced in the good old days of high crude prices.
The problem, apparently, was that despite the dramatic slump in oil, companies hadn’t yet begun to cut jobs or slash capex and so, officials were left with less money to put towards policing their growing populations.
As dangerous as it may be for small towns to experience exponential growth in what The Washington Post described as “highly paid oil workers living in sprawling ‘man camps’ with limited spending opportunities,” what’s even more dangerous is the prospect that suddenly, the majority of those workers will be jobless. That is, if there’s anything that’s more conducive to raising the crime rate than legions of highly paid young men living in small towns with “limited spending opportunities,” it’s legions of formerly highly paid young men stuck in small towns with limited job opportunities.
With that in mind, America can look north to Calgary for a preview of what’s in store for America’s oil boom towns.
Although Alberta’s largest city bares little resemblance to Sidney and Bainville, the three do have one thing in common: oil. “Calgary boasted one of the lowest jobless rates in Canada as crude prices rose over $100 a barrel [but] it’s now reeling after a global glut pushed prices down by two-thirds,” Bloomberg notes.
For our part, we’ve spent quite a bit of time documenting the city’s trials and travails: