The Cost of Winter Storm Jonas

The massive snowstorm that has left its mark all across the East Coast is over; now, comes the equally daunting task of shoveling our way out of it.

The biggest financial effect will be on municipal budgets. Due to the storm’s weekend timing, cities and towns often have to pay overtime to workers who are on the job on the weekend. In 2010, Danbury, Conn. estimated it would have to spend half its budget for snow removal, on one storm. New York City paid $130 million for snow removal in 2014.

Costs for insurers are a concern as well: in 2014, 15 percent of all home, auto and business losses were caused by severe weather. Travel is always severely impacted; 9,000 flights were cancelled as a result of Winter Storm Jonas.

There is some good news: unlike some storms in years past, the weekend timing of this event means that the overall economic impact will be lessened. In addition, the winter prior to the month of January has been quite mild.

“Though the storm will disrupt millions of lives, the timing is good from an economic perspective,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody’s Analytics. “Its greatest impact will likely occur over the weekend, minimizing the amount of lost output.”

In general during winter storms that are disruptive for a short period of time, certain businesses see a significant boost; this includes grocery and hardware stores, as people stock up on food essentials and items such as shovels and batteries. Others suffer, notably restaurants.

Salaried office workers are not significantly affected by storms such as these, since even though commuting to the office may be difficult or impossible, many can work from home. They will still be paid, but it’s a different story for hourly workers such as those working in retail or food service. They will be the hardest hit, since many work weekend shifts and will miss out on those wages.

The daily economic output of the region affected by Winter Storm Jonas is estimated at $16 billion.

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