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What have been the effects of the events of September 11, 2001 on BLS data?

The events of September 11, 2001, resulted in a tragic loss of life and significant disruptions to workers in the local affected economies.

In Lower Manhattan, about 368,000 persons worked within a few blocks of the World Trade Center, more than a half-million worked within the area cordoned off by emergency officials as they responded to the attack, and about 700,000 in a slightly larger area of the southern quarter of the island. For more information, see the detailed fact sheet from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program.

It is not possible to separate overall job losses for October 2001 and  subsequent months into the effects from the September 11 events and the effects from a generally weakening employment trend that had been evident for several months prior. However, several of the industries with substantial employment declines in October 2001 and some subsequent months, particularly air transportation, transportation services (which includes travel agencies), and hotels, have undoubtedly been affected by the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and the widespread decline in travel following September 11.  See the fact sheet on Current Employment Statistics for more details.

To some extent, the labor market data from the household survey for  October 2001 and subsequent months reflect the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11. The labor market had been weakening before those attacks, and those events undoubtedly exacerbated this weakness. It is not possible, however, to separate the job-market effects of the terrorist attacks from the underlying economic weakness.  See the fact sheet on labor force data from the Current Population Survey for more information.

In a report, Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter of 2001, issued February 13, 2002,  BLS found that as of December 29th there were 408 extended mass layoff events, involving 114,711 workers, directly or indirectly attributed to the attacks. Thirty-three states reported extended mass layoff activity related in some way to the September 11 incidents. Fifty-four percent of these events and 56 percent of these separations occurred in just five states—California, Nevada, Illinois, New York, and Texas. Among the workers laid off because of the terrorist attacks, 42 percent, or 44,756 workers, had been employed in the scheduled air transportation industry. An additional 28 percent, or 32,044 workers, had been employed in hotels and motels.  See the Mass Layoffs fact sheet for additional details.

The local labor force impacts of these events began to register in Local Area Unemployment Statistics estimates for October 2001. At the statewide level, the most noticeable effects were on two states heavily dependent on travel and tourism—Hawaii and Nevada, where unemployment rates increased substantially over the month.

The terrorist attacks of September 11 occurred during the reference period for the September 2001 Employment Cost Index (ECI). A review of the responses for the September and December surveys to evaluate the impact on the ECI survey cooperation rates by industry and any impact of nonresponse on survey estimates found no unusual effects. For more information, see the fact sheet from the National Compensation Survey program.

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) collects information on all fatal work-related injuries, including workplace homicides. A total of 8,786 fatal work injuries were reported in 2001, including 2,886 fatalities related to the September 11th terrorist attacks. The events of that day killed workers from a wide range of backgrounds—janitors to managers, native and foreign-born workers, the young and the old, men and women.


Last Modified Date: January 6, 2004