Hurricane May Spark Temporary Jobs Boom

Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011 01:34 PM

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That Hurricane Irene did less damage than expected is one piece of good news. The second piece may come in the form of jobs. Damage means repairs — and repairs are likely to mean income for jobless construction workers.

Disaster experts had predicted $15 billion worth of damage.

MSNBC says catastrophe analysis firm Kinetic Analysis Corp offered an initial damage estimate of $7 billion, with the possibility of an extra $1 billion in damages from severe Northeast flooding.

Of that total, Kinetic Analysis Corp. places insured damage from Hurricane Irene between $2 billion and $3 billion, according to The Tennessean.

122701556.jpg
Hurricane Irene flooded
parts of NYC

(Getty Images photo)
“This region is very highly insured, so a lot of money will start pouring in, and that should re-employ a lot of construction workers who are now out of work,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, is quoted as saying in The Tennessean.

“The initial impact is likely to be an increase in jobless claims for construction workers, reflecting the suspension or postponement of projects,” MSNBC quotes Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, as saying.

"A few weeks later, employment picks up as people rebuild," Van Horn continued.

This boost in employment for construction workers isn't expected to be a long-term fix for the nation's unemployment problem. Rebuilding is likely to produce jobs mostly at the local and regional level in the affected areas.

With so many people unemployed, it is likely that the work will get done faster but the downside is that this will also shorten the length of this temporary jobs boom.

Furthermore, the amount of insured damage is less than half of the total. This means that rebuilding associated with the remaining damage will need to come from funds other than those provided by insurance companies, which spotlights another likely drawback.

“If people have to pay for repairs themselves, it drags down their net worth and put a brake on consumer spending,” MSNBC quotes Karl Smith, associate professor of economics and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as saying.

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