NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
While many economists worry about the consequences of a war with Iraq, a leading outplacement firm said Tuesday that the conflict could actually help create jobs.
"For every industry that is hurt by a war, there are others that stand to benefit," said Challenger Gray & Christmas, which publishes a closely watched monthly tally of corporate layoff announcements.
Several industries could see increased activity due to the war and be forced to hire new workers, the firm said, including:
- Defense, the most obvious beneficiary of a war;
- Equipment manufacturers -- Challenger said any industries making equipment used by the military probably already are preparing for round-the-clock operations to meet war-time demand;
- Services -- cargo handlers, air traffic controllers, health-care workers and other skilled service personnel will be needed to replace reservists called into action;
- Food processing, especially firms that provide food to the military;
- Energy -- many petroleum explorers will be scrambling to find new sources of oil in the event of a disruption of the supply from the Middle East;
- Airlines -- many carriers could be pressed into military service, transporting troops and supplies, as they were during the Gulf War.
But, if the war drags on or the supply of oil is disrupted significantly, the subsequent economic slowdown could lead to job losses in other industries that could offset these gains, many economists believe.
Many airlines, for example, might be forced into bankruptcy as a result of the higher oil prices, discouraging them from hiring many more workers.
"I don't think the net effect would be positive," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo & Co.
The nation's unemployment rate fell slightly in August to 5.7 percent. Most economists think unemployment, which is a lagging economic indicator, often rising even as the economy improves, could rise above 6 percent before the labor market fully recovers.