New Frontier Lures Detroit Autoworkers

Wyoming is the land of wide open spaces, and a wide open job market. Thanks to a booming energy industry, there are 6,000 more jobs in the state than people, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

The need for workers is so urgent, Wyoming has put up "help wanted" signs in places you would never expect, like the hard-hit state of Michigan. About 1,300 applicants lined up at the latest job fair put on by Wyoming businesses.

Facing a possible lay-off at the end of this month, Ford worker Russ Cline and his wife Michelle are giving serious thought to packing up their four children and moving 1,400 miles away to become what amounts to modern-day pioneers.

"I'm really proud to be a Ford worker. It just seems that it might be my time, our time, the Cline family's time, to make a change," Russ says.

"The main thing is that we need something that's going to sustain us forever," Michelle adds.

Even though the idea didn't sit well with the kids at first, they seem to understand the scary ups-and-downs surrounding their dad's job.

"I actually forgot Wyoming was a state," Kendall Cline says, giggling.

"If we move to Wyoming we'll have chances of my parents making money and we'd have a better life," Finley Cline says.

In Michigan, the unemployment rate now tops 7 percent. Over the last six years, nearly one-fourth — or 262,000 — of the state's manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and in the Detroit area alone nearly 14,000 white collar jobs have been eliminated.

White collar workers, with numerous years of experience at GM, thought they'd be safe until retirement, but they weren't.

"This is like you're married for 26 years and all of a sudden your spouse came up to you one day, unannounced, and said, 'We're done,'" Dave Kepsal says.

Kepsal is one of hundreds who've sought help from psychologist Donna Rockwell.

"People tie so much of their identity into what they do for a living that it's really a shock to the ego when they get fired," Rockwell says. "They have to re-invent themselves. It's very difficult."

But it may be a little easier for blue collar workers because in today's new land of opportunity, Wyoming is looking for machinists, welders, and truck drivers, all jobs Russ Cline would be happy to have.

"It's my job to take care of my family and I'll do whatever it takes to makes sure…I get that done," Russ says. "Even picking them up and moving them across the country and having my stomach churning the whole way."

For the Clines, the only certainty is that whatever future they build for themselves, they'll be building it together.



You can find out more about job loss resources at The Michigan School for Professional Psychology.

Union Pacific Railroad has an employment outreach program to automotive workers in Detroit. You can read more about it here.