Poll: 9/11 Attacks Still Wreaking Job Market Havoc

September 8, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Unemployed Americans are spending 32% longer to find work since the September 11 terrorist attacks and 20% have to settle for less than they used to earn, according to a new survey.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that in the seven-quarter period since October 1, 2001, the average job-search time expanded to 3.7 months, up from 2.8 months before the attacks. The percentage of job seekers getting as big or bigger a paycheck as before is up slightly from a year ago, but is still not at the pre-September 11 average of 89%. From the fourth quarter of 2001 through the second quarter of 2003, 80% of job seekers are winning equivalent or better salaries, 11% fewer than the seven quarter period ending September 2001, according to the survey.

The poll also found that many workers are showing greater willingness to take risks they may not have considered before September 11. For example, the percentage of job seekers switching industries in their new positions increased 8% to 50% since the attacks, compared to 42% before September 11. Also, start ups among jobless managers and executives have increased 29%, after several years of decline. Over the last seven quarters, 9% of jobless workers have started their own business, up from 7% in the previous seven quarters.

“People may also be switching industries to find greater flexibility in balancing work and life,” said Challenger CEO John Challenger. “As a result, 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 in some way makes a contribution to society.”

The Challenger data are based on a survey of 3,000 discharged managers and executives from a wide variety of US industries.