Canada Lures Americans for Oil Sands Industry Jobs

Unemployed Californians are finding high-paying jobs in the energy sector of Alberta, Canada.

Energy companies in Alberta are hoping to lure tens of thousands of workers to the Canadian province in the next several years to sustain the booming oil sands industry there, among them Americans.

the Los Angeles Times reports that Canadian companies are swarming American job fairs and employing headhunters to lure jobless Americans north. “California, with its 10.2 percent unemployment rate, has become a prime target.”

Due to high taxes and overregulation, California’s own energy industry is in decline. While the state’s population and gasoline consumption have increased nearly 50 percent since the mid 1980s, the number of refineries producing gasoline there has dropped from 32 to fourteen in the same period. Oil companies in the state import an estimated 3.5 million gallons of gasolines every day to meet demand.

Canada was estimated to possess the equivalent of 179 billion barrels of oil reserves in 2007, 95 percent of which is situated in the tar sands of Alberta. Daily production in the province of 1.5 million barrels is expected to more than double in the next fifteen years.

Some 35,000 Americans have been issued permits to work in Canada on an annual basis since 2010, according to immigration statistics. That’s up 13 percent from earlier in the decade. Median households income in Alberta is now far higher than in the United States, $83,000 compared with $50,000. Kari Lydersen reported for In These Times three years ago that tar sands jobs “typically pay $100,000 for workers with only a high-school degree.”