On an unseasonably hot afternoon in early November, Amber and David Templeton, who worked as crane and rigging operators, were packing their trailer to leave Carlsbad for good. Weeks earlier, their teenage son had gotten sick with COVID-19 and was too sick to travel, but he’d now recovered enough to hit the road back to Houston, their hometown.
They hoped to get a new gig once they arrived, but they weren’t optimistic: The Texas oil and gas industry had taken a huge hit during the pandemic, shedding nearly 40,000 jobs in the first half of the year — which meant the prospects there could be grim. But the prospects in New Mexico were even grimmer.
“It sucks right now,” David Templeton fumed as he washed the sleek black-and-chrome Harley-Davidson he bought during the boom, when workers like him were flush with money.
“I paid $20,000 cash for this bike, all $100 bills. Now I gotta sell it just to make ends meet,” he said. “I’ve been in this industry since I was 17 years old, and I never seen it this bad.”
An October report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an energy market think tank, found that unless oil prices double — an unlikely scenario anytime soon — New Mexico could face “economic disaster.”
[Adrian Hedden and Ed Williams]