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How To Find A Job After Katrina

As survivors of Hurricane Katrina come to terms with what they've lost, one of their top priorities is finding a good job. In The Early Show series Rebuilding Your Life, Money magazine's managing editor Eric Schurenberg explains what you need to know if a disaster wipes out your livelihood.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Katrina will cost the nation 400,000 jobs by the end of the year. Just to put that in perspective: Total employment in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast was about 775,000 at the end of last year.

If you are a displaced person without a job, Schurenberg has the following advice:

Your first task is to get help to make sure you have at least some income coming in.

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Contact Your Employer, If Possible
Many companies continue to pay salaries and benefits to workers displaced by Katrina. Examples: McDonalds, Marriott, Union Pacific

Apply For Unemployment Insurance
Contact your state employment commission, or the Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365) - If you've been evacuated to another state, apply in the state where you are, and the claim will be routed to your home state.

  • Alabama residents, call 1-866-234-5382
  • Louisiana residents, call 1-866-783-5567
  • Mississippi residents, call 1-888-844-3577

Or Apply For Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Also through your state employment commission, or 1-866-4-USADOL. This is offered to disaster victims who wouldn't otherwise qualify for regular unemployment insurance.
  • Alabama residents, call 1-866-234-5382
  • Louisiana residents, call 1-866-783-5567
  • Mississippi residents, call 1-888-844-3577
  • Texas residents, call 1-800-818-7811

Now, you're ready to start looking for a job. Here's how to start:

Keep An Eye Out For Job Fairs
If you're in a city where a lot of displaced workers have landed, chances are good that employers are looking for you. The Texas Workforce Commission, for example, already has sponsored job fairs in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. Adecco, a temporary staffing agency, held a job fair in the Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. Other temporary staffing agencies and state employment commissions are doing the same thing.

Check Out State And Federal Employment Centers
Nationwide, the Department of Labor has 3,500 walk-in career one-stop centers, where you can get assistance filing unemployment claims, applying for jobs, and doing online searches for jobs, both for permanent full-time jobs and jobs related to disaster recovery. State employment agencies have similar facilities; the Texas Workforce Commission has 284 centers.

Work Your Network And Pound The Pavement
Contact professional organizations, if that's the kind of work you do. Or consider taking work outside your former specialty. A lot of the displaced workers in the Gulf Coast worked in hospitality or retail; that experience may not line up exactly with the job market in their adopted towns.

For Now, Don't Sweat Any Lack Of Documentation
The Homeland Security Department has waived the usual documentation requirements for 45 days. You don't have to prove citizenship, for example, to land a job.

The best places to look for work:

Job Categories In Immediate Demand (in the Gulf Coast area)

  • Industrial
  • Construction
  • Medical Staffing

Anything related to restoring essential services in damaged areas will likely put people to work quickest in the areas hit by Katrina. And they'll be busy for a while.

Hot Jobs For The Long Term

  • Registered Nurses
  • Post-secondary teachers
  • Retail salespersons
  • Customer Service Representatives

All are expected to add about 500,000 jobs this decade.

Best Places To Go For Jobs

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Washington D.C. and northern Virginia
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Tampa - St. Petersburg

All these areas have unemployment rates below 3.9 percent, compared with a national average of 5.2 percent.
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