A few years back, Michigan resident Jim Bailer worked in southwest Wyoming on a short job. Before leaving Michigan, he called ahead and reserved a spot at a local RV park with little fuss.
Back in Wyoming this summer for a three-month pipeline construction job, the 31-year-old Bailer said this time around, he had to scramble to find a spot in any RV park and is now paying twice the price, more than $600 per week, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
So it goes, he said, for out-of-state workers in Wyoming.
Bailer is just one of hundreds of nonresident workers who have descended upon southwest Wyoming for the thousands of skilled labor jobs available.
Bailer rated his newest Wyoming nonresident work experience as mostly positive, except for the sticker shock on housing and other items.
But with little or no work in Michigan, Bailer said he goes where the work is and appreciates the job opportunities in southwest Wyoming.
About half of his co-workers are staying in RV parks or in local motels, Bailer said in an interview.
“Some are spending almost half their checks to just work here … and at the prices they’re paying, they could really be in a nice motel in a larger urban area,” he said.
Like many of his nonresident coworkers, Bailer sends most of his paycheck back home to Michigan, where his girlfriend is maintaining their residence about 70 miles north of Flint.
“Everything goes back to the household,” he said. “I’ll be here until the job’s done, probably in the next month or so, and then it’s back to Michigan.”
Working six days a week pretty much from sunup to sundown, Bailer said he still spends hundreds of dollars each week on fuel, food and other living necessities. “Most of it all goes right here into Green River,” he said.
Bailer lauded the area’s recreational opportunities and scenic qualities.
“Oh, yes, we’ve hit all the hot spots, rafted the Green River and down to the (Flaming Gorge) dam … The countryside is incredibly nice around here,” he said. “It’s a very nice state, and there’s lots of things to do.”
Bailer figures the boom’s a long way from over. “There’s going to be a lot of people like me here for quite a while, I think,” he said.