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Economic Crises Forces Some Bangladeshis to Return Home

From Bangla Patrika

September 28, 2001

America's economy has taken a big hit since the World Trade Center attack and every community has felt it - including Bangladeshis. Many are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their livelihoods and have undergone a great deal of stress. Some Bangladeshis have been forced to leave New York in search of better opportunities in other states, and a few are even preparing to return to their home country.

According to various survey reports, the U.S. economy has been in decline since the start of the Bush Administration. The unemployment rate was breaking records before the destruction of the Twin Towers, and the situation has only gotten worse in the aftermath of Sept. 11. This has not only affected the United States but the world as a whole.

Businessmen everywhere are walking on a tight-rope. Even well-established businesses have closed down, including airlines, garment factories, computer industries, hotels, and restaurants. Tourism has plummeted. Many companies have withdrawn their advertisements, which has put a great strain on the media industry. Companies have also cut down on employees' hours. "Out of Business" signs now hang on storefronts across the nation.

Bangladeshis work in a variety of fields in America - everything from medicine, engineering, accounting, and law to service work in hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores. Those who live in New York have been deeply affected by the terrorist attacks. Many have gone from full-time employment to part-time. Their paychecks, meanwhile, have been trimmed down to a third. Bangladeshis who used to earn $100 a shift at restaurants are now earning only $20 or $25. Many have lost their jobs altogether.

Taxi drivers have also been deeply impacted by the events of the past two months. At first, many Bangladeshi drivers didn't dare go to work. That's because some New Yorkers were hesitant or afraid to get into their cabs when they saw their faces. The average income of a Bangladeshi taxi driver has fallen from $150 a shift to $30 or $40 since Sept. 11.

Indeed, the World Trade Center attacks have hit businesses big and small. Several Bangladeshi businessmen interviewed for this article said that their average sale has gone from $1,000 a day to $300. For service workers, the situation is even worse. After paying rent and grocery bills, there is simply nothing left. For this reason, many have decided to leave New York, return home to Bangladesh, and seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Translated from Bengali by Moinuddin Naser for the Independent Press Association.

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