Job seekers adjust post-9/11
Unemployed encounter longer searches and often less pay. But entrepreneurial ventures have soared.
August 30, 2002: 5:48 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - With the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 approaching, the full effects of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. job market are becoming more clear, as unemployed Americans spend more time to find work, often finding only lower-paying jobs, according to a survey released Thursday.

The average job search lengthened to 3.5 months in the three quarters since Sept. 11, a 40 percent increase from the first three quarters of 2001 and the highest average since employment firm Challenger Gray & Christmas began tracking the statistic 17 years ago.

Job cuts in the 11 months after Sept. 11 swelled 23 percent to 1.65 million, with many of those coming in the airline, hospitality and retail sectors, according to the study.

The Sept. 11 impact on the job market
Before 9/11After 9/11Percentage change
Job search times2.5 months3.5 months+40
Job seekers winning equivalent/better salaries89%78.7%-12
Job seekers switching industries39%54%+38
Job seekers starting their own business7%11%+57
Start-ups by job seekers under 4016%33%+106
Job cuts1.345 million1.650 million+23
Source:Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

With jobs increasingly hard to come by, only 75 percent of the unemployed managed to land jobs at a higher or equivalent salary in the second quarter of 2002, dropping the average since Sept. 11 to 79 percent, the survey found.

"The terrorist attacks created an air of uncertainty that has undoubtedly influenced corporate decision making over the last year," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas.

However, Challenger noted that following the attacks "some are even willing to take lower salaries in exchange for flexibility and/or the chance to pursue a career that is perceived to be more meaningful in that it somehow makes a contribution to society."

Indeed, the U.S. labor market is experiencing a shift as a growing number of the unemployed are taking risks they may not have considered prior to Sept. 11. In the three quarters since Sept. 11, job seekers changing careers increased by 37 percent, and those starting their own businesses jumped by 57 percent, according to the study.

Job seekers under 40 that started their own business climbed by 106 percent, the survey found.

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"One cannot dismiss the emotional response to September 11, which has led to a renewed 'life is too short' mentality,'" said Challenger. "Before September 11, many younger would-be entrepreneurs might have postponed their dreams until they were older, had more experience, etc. Now, we are seeing this younger generation proceed with their dreams, throwing caution to the wind."

The Challenger survey was based on information compiled from 3,000 discharged managers and executives from industries throughout the United States.  Top of page

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