"The shock waves of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are still pulsing through the American economy," the report stated. "With the economic injury focused predominantly on a handful of sectors -- travel, tourism, lodging, dining and recreation -- the consequences for individuals and unique localities have been profound."
Las Vegas was projected to have nearly 5-percent fewer jobs this year than if the 9/11 attacks had never occurred based on the assumed drop in the number of visitors to the gambling Mecca; Las Vegas was followed by a 3.6-percent loss for Myrtle Beach and 3.4 percent in New York.
In actual numbers, however, New York will be the hardest hit with 150,000 fewer jobs; Los Angeles was second with 69,000 positions lost and Chicago with a job loss of 68,000. The United States as a whole was expected to see an impact of 1.64 million jobs lost in a slump that could drag into 2004 in some areas, including New York.
December unemployment figures released Friday by the Labor Department pegged the nationwide jobless rate at 5.8 percent compared to 5.6 percent in November.
"The manufacturing sector, which has had difficulties since July, 2000, has lost 1.5 million jobs in that period," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a release. "Since Sept. 11, the services sector has been suffering as well, particularly the travel and tourism industry. We are now seeing some signs of improvement in services, which increased by 72,000 jobs in December."
"After two months of averaging 400,000 lost jobs, December's decline was smaller -- 124,000," she added.
The Milken Institute, which is headed by former Wall Street guru Michael Milken, determined that tourism and links to air travel would be a major indicator of which cities faced the most trouble in the coming months. Las Vegas was found to be highly dependent on both despite the large number of visitors who arrive by car from the Los Angeles area every weekend.
"With its large gambling industry and related infrastructure primarily accessible by air, Las Vegas is the single most vulnerable metropolitan economy," the study found.
The report was based on models that use assumed downturns in income and spending during the four months after the deadly September attacks and it has created the expected ripple effect. As a result, cities that may not be major tourist destinations were seen as having a share of the pain.
Other cities with a heavy presence of industries that were hit hard by the economic downturn included Seattle and Wichita (aerospace); San Francisco and New York (financial services); Atlanta; Ft. Worth and St. Louis (major hub airports).
"The attacks of September 11 devastated several key industries and the cities dependent on them," noted Ross DeVol, principal author of the report. "The good news is that many of those jobs should come back by next year."
(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)