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Post-disaster, now comes the job search
Katrina victims face incredible challenges. But there are resources to help them get back to work.
September 15, 2005: 10:57 AM EDT
By Amanda Gengler, MONEY Magazine staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Hurricane Katrina will cost the nation 400,000 jobs by the end of the year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. To put that in perspective, employment in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast totaled about 775,000 at the end of 2004.

If you are suddenly displaced and unemployed, how do you find new work?

Your first task is to make sure at least some income is coming in while you hunt for work. Many companies, such as McDonald's, Marriott International and Union Pacific are continuing to pay salaries.

But if not, there are other options, including unemployment insurance or disaster unemployment assistance.

The latter provides assistance to disaster victims not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance, such as the self employed. To apply, contact your state employment commission, or the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USADOL or If you've evacuated to another state, apply where you are and your claim will be routed to your home state.

The job hunt

Once your situation has stabilized, here's how to start your job search.

Keep an eye out for job fairs. If you fled to a city where many displaced workers have landed, chances are good that employers are looking for you.

The Texas Workforce Commission, for example, already sponsored job fairs in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.

Adecco, a temporary-staffing agency, held a job fair in the Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. Other staffing agencies and state employment commissions are holding similar fairs.

Look for flyers in and around shelters and areas heavily populated with evacuees.

Check out state and federal employment centers. Nationwide, the Department of Labor has 3,500 walk-in CareerOneStop centers, which provide assistance filing unemployment claims, applying for jobs and searching online. State employment agencies also have similar facilities. The Texas Workforce Commission runs 284 centers.

Log onto the Katrina Recovery Job Connection. Go to or link through America's Job Bank at You can search for permanent full-time jobs and temporary disaster recovery employment.

Network and pound the pavement. Contact professional organizations, if such things exist in your industry. Or consider taking work outside your former specialty. Many of the displaced employees in the Gulf Coast worked in hospitality or retail, but you may not find these jobs in your adopted town.

For now, don't sweat a lack of documentation. For 45 days the Department of Homeland Security is allowing employers to hire workers without the documentation usually required. So, you will not need to prove citizenship, for example, to land a job.

During your search, keep in mind that the industries related to restoring essential services in the damaged areas will likely put people to work the fastest. Industrial, construction and medical-staffing jobs will be in immediate demand. And they'll keep you busy for a while.

If you decide to make a career change, think more long term. Consider growing occupations such as registered nurses, post-secondary teachers, retail salespersons, and customer-service representatives. Experts expect these occupations to add about 500,000 jobs this decade.

Finally, if you want to permanently get out of town, head to areas with low unemployment such as Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, Orlando, Richmond and Tampa-St. Petersburg. These regions post rates below 3.9 percent, compared with the national average of 4.9 percent, according to the Department of Labor.  Top of page

Hurricane Katrina
Disasters (General)
Department of Labor (DOL)
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