Impact of the Events of September 11, 2001, on BLS Nonfarm Payroll Employment Series

  • The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon resulted in a tragic loss of life and significant economic disruptions. Impacts from these events first began to register in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) "payroll" survey with estimates for October 2001.
  • September 2001 estimates were not affected by the aftermath of the attacks because the reference period for the CES survey is the pay period including the 12th of the month; workers employed for any portion of that pay period are counted as employed by the survey. Nearly all pay periods including the 12th of September began prior to the day of the attacks; thus most workers affected either directly or indirectly by the attacks registered as employed for September 2001.
  • 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 industries with substantial employment declines in October 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.
  • CES data collection and estimation methods for September 2001 and subsequent months have followed the survey's normal procedures. Overall nationwide sample receipts have continued at a normal level for each month. Sample receipts from the lower Manhattan area of New York City that was directly impacted by the World Trade Center attack were lower than normal for the September and October 2001 reference months, but sufficient to produce reliable estimates. Sample receipts for that area returned to normal levels by November 2001.

Last Modified Date: December 6, 2002