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Natural Disasters and Their Impact on the Job Market

Author: Moe Harrison /Tuesday, September 26, 2017/Categories: SNI Companies, SNI Financial, For Job Seekers, For Employers, Workplace Issues, SNI Certes, For Job Seekers, For Employers, Workplace Issues, SNI Technology, Accounting Now, Staffing Now

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, and tornadoes, to name a few, are some of the most devastating natural occurrences. They are unpredictable, impossible to prevent, and cause an enormous amount of destruction and loss. These events are extremely distressing, especially when thinking about massive amounts of physical and emotional damage from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, or the more recent, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These disasters also cause issues in the economy and the job market.

Business Impact
Millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars in damage can occur because of natural disasters, but the same can be said for that same amount lost in economic damages. Businesses are torn apart, or destroyed, and operations can come to a halt for unplanned, significant amounts of time. However, as devastating as it is person to person, historically the economic damages to the overall economy tend to be fairly moderate due to our nation’s ability to fight back and revive what was lost. That may not be the case in other countries who are more dependent one an individual business sector to thrive or where the actual size of the country or area dictates that they are impacted on a much larger scale.

Tourism
For the places where tourism is a major part of the economy, like the Caribbean islands, when a natural disaster hits, it’s even more traumatic and damaging for many reasons. The efforts to repair and rebuild typically have a priority pattern that focuses on personal losses, like homes, then small businesses and buildings. When the infrastructure is compromised, which it usually is due to lower standards in building codes and overall quality of construction, the efforts to restore necessities like electricity, roads and clean water can be slow and inefficient. This greatly hinders the areas ability to build back in a short period of time and attract foreigners and their money which they rely so heavily on. Without Tourism bringing in the revenue to provide the foundation of their economy immense strain is put on these more remote, less developed countries or areas.

Job Loss
Because of the damages done, some people unfortunately lose their jobs. There are lots of ways to overcome this unexpected challenge. Agencies like SNI Companies can assist in matching open local positions or relocation opportunities with candidates who are impacted. Certain industries, like restoration or construction, will typically see a spike in business that can sometimes offset the down turn in other industries. There is also federal funding available to people whose jobs have been impacted as a direct result of a major natural disaster. It’s a state administered program called Disaster Unemployment Assistance. You can also file for unemployment and receive DUA benefits should you qualify, until you are able to find other job opportunities. In an executive summary on the impacts of natural disasters on employees put together by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research in New Zealand, an example of two back to back earthquakes was illustrated here.

From peak to trough, the probability of employment falls by 2.6 percentage points in the space of five months. By November 2011, however, employment recovers and then increases significantly from January 2012.

This data and analysis is also consistent with aggregate labor force patterns in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

First Responders
FEMA is an agency called to action in any event of a major natural disaster if the state and/or federal authorities cannot handle the gravity of the situation. FEMA provides on the ground support, and FEMA Corps are dedicated to recovery and response during disasters. This is also a job opportunity in the interim for people who want to support recovery and make an impact. To shed some light on the quick response times and sheer number of people involved in these groups of first responders, take Hurricane Harvey for example. FEMA deployed 400 urban search and rescue personnel in Southeast Texas, and more than 500 rescuers in other areas. There were upwards of 25 helicopters deployed by the Coast Guard in conjunction with these rescue missions. The Department of Health and Human Services assembled a team of about 650 medical professionals. William Long, the current administrator of FEMA, expressed that, “People need to be the help before help arrives.” That’s what these groups continue to do along with a tremendous number of people who simply choose to step in and help in times of need. Between FEMA, the Coast Guard, local police departments, and others in the Houston area, thousands of people were successfully rescued. The support is still coming in for Irma and Harvey victims, but hundreds of millions of dollars was donated in the weeks following those disasters by businesses and individuals who wanted to assist those in need and that is an aspect of the American spirit that we can all rally around and take pride in.

If you find yourself recovering losses and damages from a major natural disaster, use some of these resources, and make sure you and your loved ones stay safe. For questions about job loss, give us a call. We are more than happy to help you through this difficult process.
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Moe Harrison
Moe Harrison

Moe Harrison

Moe Harrison is a Regional Vice President with SNI. With more than 15 years’ experience in recruiting and personnel management, Moe has a unique perspective on the top issues and concerns of employers and candidates in the accounting and finance fields.

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