This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 6, 2005

Special Herman Trend Alert: Katrina

This special Herman Trend Alert is issued in response to the many concens that will arise in the wake of the hurricane which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. Please see the notices following this extended message.

Herman Trend Alert: Katrina’s Cataclysmic Impact on the Workforce September 6, 2005

The incomparable damage caused by Hurricane Katrina will have unexpected impacts on the workforce. The repair and rebuilding of a vast area---including one of America’s major cities and ports-—will require a tremendous investment.

Damage assessment and clean-up will be an enormous undertaking. Insurance adjustors from around the country are already on-site in accessible areas. Even with all their disaster preparation, insurers will be taxed beyond their limits---to respond to Katrina’s devastation while maintaining normal service levels. Independent contract estimators such as Interstate Restoration Group -- were looking for people even before the hurricane hit.

Adding to the construction industry’s workforce shortages, thousands more jobs will be created throughout the involved area. There will be a high demand for engineers, architects, and design-build specialists---as well as the support staff they will require. Construction contractors of all t ypes and sizes will need equipment operators, skilled and unskilled laborers, administrators, managers, and support personnel. Rebuilding will be massive challenge---driven by a need to revitalize the affected communities as quickly as possible…all under the watchful eye of news-hungry journalists.

Before reconstruction can begin, considerable planning will be needed. Given the level of destruction, community leaders must decide whether to rebuild what existed or take advantage of an opportunity for different land use and supportive infrastructure. Expect serious political battles with socio-economic undertones and racial implications.

Conventions scheduled for the disaster area will still be held---relocated to other cities. Tourism business that would have gone to New Orleans will now be spread across many other cities, already vying for those engagements. Millions of dollars---and jobs---are involved.

The affect of the storm will create a demand for much of the equipment used by local government (fire trucks, police cars, dump trucks) and business and industry (manufacturing equipment, computers) must be replaced. Manufacturers and distributors may need more workers quickly to boost production. And what will happen to all the ruined equipment?

Dislocation of hundreds of thousands of people means more work to be done to house, feed, educate, clothe, and support refugees all over the country. Employers throughout the United States could recruit displaced workers with their high levels of competency. The difficulty will come in connecting employers and qualified workers. This diaspora will see people moving several times before they are settled into a new location. Who knows how many will return to their home communities after rebuilding?

WANT TO HELP? Volunteers and contributions to aid victims of Katrina may be directed to the American Red Cross through

WANT TO KNOW? Various workforce-related research projects are under consideration by the Human Capital Research Institute. Organizations intersted in sponsoring research should contact co-executive director Joyce Gioia at

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