A new report was released on June 20, 2011 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that estimates the exposure to employers, employees, and payrolls if a large earthquake occurs on the southern San Andrea Fault, which runs through the heavily populated L.A., Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
According to Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden, “Themost intense shaking from a Magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault could affect 434,000 businesses, more than 4.5 million employees of those businesses, with combined annual payrolls of $206.5 billion.”
The counties most affected would be L.A., Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. The most intense shaking in L.A., Orange, and Riverside would affect approximately three of every four employees in those counties; in San Bernardino, approximately 96 percent of employees would be affected.
The Regional Report entitled “Labor market risks of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in California” released today was authored by Regional Commissioner Holden and BLS economists Amar Mann and Tian Luo, who work in the Bureau’s San Francisco office. The authors used seismic shaking information and detailed data on businesses, employment, and wages from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program in BLS to produce the estimates in the report. The QCEW is based on employment tax records collected by state unemployment insurance programs.
Estimated shaking intensities were provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and originally developed in the USGS ShakeOut Scenario. According to USGS, the most likely source of a large earthquake in California is the southern segment of the San Andreas Fault.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report builds upon the work of the ShakeOut Scenario and puts real numbers to the risk businesses face in the most seriously affected areas of a great San Andreas earthquake on the southern section of the fault,” said Dr. Lucy Jones, Chief Scientist of the USGS Multi Hazards Project which coordinated the ShakeOut Scenario in 2008.
The estimated exposures for Southern California employees in health care (522,000), retail trade (504,000), manufacturing (480,000), and educational services (409,000) were the highest among all industries according to the report. Moreover, 72 percent of health care workers are in the most intense shaking zones. The results of this report
serve as a reminder to public officials, employers, and residents of the vital importance of taking preventive actions to mitigate the potential losses from an earthquake and to prepare for the anticipated disruption to businesses and employees.
President and CEO of the L.A. area chamber Gary Toebben said “In Los Angeles, we are particularly vulnerable, and with so many people and businesses located in this area, the potential economic impact is substantial. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent earthquakes, but we can mitigate the damages by preparing for them. Hopefully, after hearing this report, more people will be motivated to prepare by putting emergency procedures in place.”
The entire report is available on the BLS website at: http://www.bls.gov/opub/regional_reports/southernca/201106_southernca.pdf