Economy in New York's Chinatown still suffering in wake of 9-11

NEW YORK -- Chinatown is still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks, with businesses hurting and thousands of workers laid off, according to a report released Thursday.

Nearly one in four of the neighborhood's 33,658 workers were laid off in the three months after the attacks on the nearby World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. That total of 7,685 represents an estimated 10 percent of New York City's disaster-related job losses.

"This level of job loss in many ways is parallel to what New York City suffered during the Great Depression era in the 1930s," said Shao-Chee Sim, research director for the Asian American Federation of New York, which prepared the report.

Chinatown, home to about 100,000 residents, is the country's largest enclave of ethnic Chinese. In the days after the attacks, the neighborhood was part of a restricted area below 14th Street. Even after cars and pedestrians were allowed to return, telephone service was disrupted, traffic was limited and nearly 1,000 parking places were lost partly because of street closures, the report says.

The report found that over 40 of Chinatown's approximately 300 garment factories have closed, jewelry sales have dropped by half and restaurants have seen revenue fall by up to 70 percent.

Even five months after the attacks, more than 70 percent of garment workers and 35 percent of restaurant workers were working reduced hours, the report found.

"Chinatown was the economic ground zero of the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack," said James Parrott, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York think tank.

Sim said government aid has been of limited help in Chinatown, where many businesses deal in cash and do not qualify for loans.

Only about 237 of Chinatown's more than 4,000 businesses have received loans from the Small Business Administration, he said.