The effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on US employment

Amber Pittard, September 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on 25th August 2017 and Hurricane Irma hit Florida’s Southwest on 10th September 2017. As a Recruiter for the Global Relocation industry, I have spoken with individuals that have been affected by both Harvey and Irma in Houston and Florida, thousands have been left without power and in some locations an evacuation order has been put in place.

Companies have had to close their offices in the worst hit areas, many had to evacuate and of course were not in a position to work. My Relocation contacts have told me that due to office closures, colleagues in other states had been working overtime to ensure there was little effect on clients and customers.

It’s no surprise to see recent Hurricanes have had an effect on employment opportunities; Hurricane Katrina (2005) devastated New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding area’s economies and has had a lasting effect on employment and wages. Hundreds of thousands of residents moved to other states across the US to escape which led to the largest mass migration in U.S. history, many that took refuge in Houston are again facing further devastation.

James Richardson, an Economics Professor at Louisiana State University, conducted a study and found that New Orleans lost 190,000 jobs and employment fell by more than 30% from August 2005 to December 2005. Statewide, Louisiana lost around 214,000 jobs, which accounted for 12% of the state's total.

During recent recruitment efforts in the Relocation industry, I have already noticed a decrease in the number of interviews and job offers in Houston and Florida over the past few weeks since the hurricanes hit. Recent research has shown during and since Hurricane Harvey, Houston experienced a large decline in hiring, levels were about 40% below year-earlier levels. 

The full extent of the impact these Hurricanes will have on the economy and employment market will most likely not be known for many months; however previous natural disasters have shown that there is usually a rebuilding phase which brings in some new job opportunities. Industries likely to see a rise in such opportunities include; auto, home improvement retail, construction and of course Relocation, many have already evacuated and relocated.

Many Relocation and Real Estate companies have come together during this time including; Keller Williams, Re/Max and Realogy, donating over $300,000 to support efforts. Others were seen putting together trucks of supplies to send to the affected areas along with thousands of volunteers sharing their time. In the wake of Harvey and Irma, Corporate Housing companies such as National Corporate Housing and BridgeStreet Global Hospitality have offered short term accommodation to those affected.

As a result of my discussions with a few Relocation professionals further inland, it has become clear that some job seekers would not relocate to states where natural disasters are common (such as those recently struck). However previous economic research shows natural disasters have a short term effect on the economy and job market; therefore I am hopeful that the economy and job market specifically can bounce back and not be hindered by these events. Above all it is reassuring to see the American spirit of community, giving and helping those in need remains commonplace. 

 

Written by Amber Pittard - Global Account Manager at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd

Posted in categories: Expatriates, Family Relocation
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