Attacks still squeezing Big Apple

NEW YORK - The September 11 attacks will cost New York City US$83 billion to US$95 billion ($206.34 billion), partly depending upon how many jobs are permanently shifted out of the city.

City Controller William Thompson, in a new report, said the city now has 83,000 fewer jobs than it did a year ago.

Although the city was in a mild downturn before the World Trade Centre was destroyed, Thompson said a likely economic rebound would have created 63,000 new jobs that now have not materialised.

The Bush Administration has promised the city US$21.4 billion in aid; so far, the city has gotten US$2.7 billion.

The attacks aggravated the soft local economy, which has yet to regain its momentum. New York City's jobless rate in July stood at 7.7 per cent, above the national rate of 5.9 per cent. In July 2001, the city's jobless rate was only 5.8 per cent.

Thompson said that the federal aid, though helpful for the economy, will not be enough to spur a rebound.

That is because the aid package is not all cash; it includes, for example, a series of tax breaks and gives the city the ability to cut costs by refinancing some of its debt.

The report assumed the average person who worked in the World Trade Centre - where many financial firms were clustered - earned US$130,000 a year.

If those employees had lived to retire at age 65, they would have earned a total of US$8.7 billion for themselves and their families.

Thompson also estimated that it will cost US$21.8 billion to replace the buildings, infrastructure and what he called "tenant assets" that were destroyed in the attacks.

Some 1.2 million sq m of prime office space were wiped out - an amount equal to all the office space in Atlanta's or Miami's business districts.

- REUTERS

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