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Worker Shortages Post-Katrina Send Businesses out of Mississippi

Facing a housing shortage along the Gulf Coast, many companies are finding it difficult to find employees and as a result, are being forced to relocate. The NewsHour reports on how Mississippi businesses are grappling with the economic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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  • JEFFREY KAYE, Reporter, KCET:

    In a triumphant and patriotic ceremony, officials recently opened up a job center in a Waveland, Miss., building that had been flooded during Hurricane Katrina. The opening was accompanied by a job fair where employers came to recruit workers.

  • JOB FAIR WORKER:

    It's definitely a good career opportunity. We're going to give it a shot.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    But after the resumes had been collected and the brief ceremony completed, there remained more employers than job-seekers. Attracting workers is a challenge for employers all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. "Now Hiring" signs are practically everywhere.

    Both unskilled and skilled employees are in demand by all kinds of businesses, among them Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Mississippi. With a workforce of over 17,000, the shipbuilder is the state's largest private employer. But even with union benefits and wages that average more than $18 an hour, the company has had trouble filling positions.

  • EDMOND HUGHES, Northrop Grumman:

    We need 1,600 people desperately.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    Northrop Grumman Vice President Edmond Hughes says to find workers the company is casting a wide net.

  • EDMOND HUGHES:

    We've increased some of our college recruiting activities. We're using contract labor to supplement. We've even gone as far as Puerto Rico to bring in some of our contract labor employees.

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