It sounded like yet another corporate cutback story.
In March 2009, Tampa Bay-based Sykes Enterprises told city officials in Minot, N.D., that the company was going to have to lay off 200 workers and shutter the call center Sykes had been operating there since 1996. A sign of the bleak economic times -- right?
Well, there's a wrinkle to this particular story. Sykes's problem, according to the Tampa Bay Times, was not a lack of business. In fact, business was booming. The problem was that Sykes just couldn't find enough employees in Minot to handle all the demand. The company had originally hoped to expand its Minot call center to 450 workers. But in North Dakota's booming economy -- one in which fast-food joints are paying high school kids $20 an hour and young oil workers are pulling in $100,000 a year -- hiring has become a huge challenge for employers like Sykes. "They'd been advertising all the time for employees but just couldn't find them," said Minot mayor Curt Zimbelman, noting that true unemployment in North Dakota oil country "probably doesn't exist."
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