The Boom is Over for North Dakota Oil Town As Prices Continue to Drop

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Williston (NBC News) Drivers in the U.S. saved hundreds of dollars each over the last year thanks to plunging prices at the pump.

Part of that is due to U.S. oil prices, falling an incredible 30% in 2015.

But it isn't all good news in towns where oil is the lifeblood of the community.

The bells are ringing for the Salvation Army in Williston, North Dakota but the kettle won't be as full as last year or the year before.

The price of oil has plummeted and that means this boom town has lost some of its pop.

What happened? OPEC started flooding the world market with oil and the price for American oil has dropped from more than 100 to less than 40 and that cost more than a quarter of a million American jobs.

Flashback video we were here fours years ago when the town was a busy noisy mess.

Forget about resumes, a pulse would get you employment.

Now in North Dakota, oil field equipment sits idle.

The rough necks laid off.

They dump their campers in Tom Novak's junkyard on their way out of town.

"Yeah, they just keep stacking up because we have more important things that need to be done to them right now and hopefully when things start to slow down we will be able to get a handle on them but right now its just out of control," Novak said.

What this means is that there is time to match infrastructure with a town whose population about tripled to more than 30,000 in the last few years.

There is even a new rec center to keep all the new comers fit.

New comer and radio news anchor Dee James doesn't miss the boom.

Back then even the laundromat was jammed.

If you got a washing machine, then you were doing good."
"if you'd get a washer it was a good day."

She says the slowdown has brought sanity and opportunity.

Housing prices once among the highest in the country are suddenly affordable.

"I think folks are relieved here," Dee James, said.

Williston still needs workers.

Unemployment in North Dakota is just above 2%.

Newcomer Kelly Roland just opened a coffee stand.

After all, she says, There's still no Starbucks here.

"Is this the best or worst decision you made in your life?" Smith asked.

"Truly I think it was one of the best. The people who are here want to be here," Roland said.

With billions of barrels yet to be taped, locals say its like having money in the bank.

When the time comes they'll be ready to withdraw.