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Twister! Employment responses to the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma City tornado

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This research examined the impact of the 3 May 1999 tornado on the Oklahoma City labour market. We estimated time series models that allow for time-varying variance in employment growth. The models include intervention variables designed to capture the tornado's effect at initial impact as well as over the post-tornado period. In terms of total employment growth, the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) experienced an increase in employment growth and a reduction in labour market risk in the sample period following the tornado. The analysis also examined the effect of the weather event on eight industrial sectors. Five of eight sectors experienced significant decreases in labour market risk after the tornado. Our evidence suggests that Oklahoma City and surrounding communities that make up the Metropolitan Statistical Area survived the disaster without suffering any extended adverse labour market effects. Our results indicate that at least in the aggregate, the labour market improved. “… what has so often excited wonder, the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation; the disappearance, in a short time, of all traces of the mischiefs done by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and the ravages of war … all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.” - J.S. Mill (1848)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Rawls College of Business, Wind Science & Engineering Research Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409 2: Director of Center for Natural Hazards Research, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858 3: Hull College of Business, Augusta State University, Augusta, Georgia 30904

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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