Wyoming Jobs Beckon, But Housing Is Scarce

When the Springers say they're closer than most American families, they're not exaggerating.

They moved from their home to a travel trailer, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports. The trailer has been their home since April, when Kenneth, Joann, and their boys made an 1,300-mile trek from Bakersfield, California to seek their fortunes in the Cowboy State, Wyoming.

"I moved out here wanting to be in a house, you know, wanting to be in an apartment, I didn't care," Joann Springer says.

Like many families, they heard about the coal-powered gold rush happening here. With fewer than a half-million people scattered over 100,000 square miles, Wyoming has 6,000 open jobs, mainly high paying blue collar jobs in the red-hot mining industry.

More than a third of the coal used to generate electricity in this country comes from one Wyoming county, and that number could be higher if the mining companies had more manpower.

Much like the boomtowns of the Wild West, in places like Gillette, jobs are plentiful. It's housing that's scarce. And although recruiters warn it could be 12 to 18 months before they can accommodate the workforce they need, families desperate to gain a toehold in this land of opportunity aren't willing to wait.

"In California, they couldn't guarantee him a job week to week. If the job was there you do it. If it's not, you're laid off," Joann explains.

It was that same fear that drove Zeb Goodrich the 1,400 miles from Michigan to a place where welders like him can make six-figure salaries.

"I could still be in Michigan right now and we probably would just be staying afloat, but there's no sense in staying afloat if you can be moving forward," Zeb says.

Now he, wife Sharon and their two boys say they're building a better life.

"Until you can go through a move like this and you have to depend on each other, you know, it either makes you or breaks you," Sharon says. "And it made us."

That's what the Springers dream of too.

"We're hoping to have a house by next summer," Joann says. "That's my dream and I'm going to shoot for that dream if it's the last thing I do."

Both families travel a road they never imagined under the wide open sky.