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Thursday
Jan272011

Weather's Economic Impact So Far: Substantial But Temporary

Photo Courtesy - Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The significant snow falls in January are expected to have a substantial, though temporary, impact on the U.S. economy.  Experts say that from an economic standpoint, production and consumer spending are the most affected, but once the weather clears, pent-up demand will mean that people will return to doing what they do and make up for economic losses caused by the storm.

Paul Kocin, a meteorologist with NOAA, has researched the impact of the weather on the economy and says that a storm like Thursday's affected at least 20 million people and the stormy winter weather throughout the country has had an impact on millions more just in the month of January.   He says in the past economic losses during similar storms have been several billions of dollars.

Kocin points out, however, that snow cleanup is a relatively smaller cost than production losses, with a tab running into the millions rather than billions.  Cleanup costs will be a huge strain on city and state budgets, but these are one-time costs as compared to the long term budget woes states and cities are facing.

Even energy prices are not necessarily affected.  Dave Feinberg of Planalytics,  a firm that follows the impact of weather on business says, “there’s a lot more going on in energy markets than just the impact of weather.” 

Scott Bernhardt, CEO of Planalytics, says that airlines too are better prepared to deal with such weather, “this will cost airlines money, but they have become much better at canceling early and are able to bring their costs down significantly.”

So while this winter may seem painful and sometimes even deadly, the U.S. economy seems basically prepared to weather the storm.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio