Hurricane Florence barreled into the southeast on Friday. The storm snapped power lines, flooded roads, and shuttered businesses. So far the storm has claimed 32 lives, and total damage estimates sit between $17 and $22 billion.
According to several estimates, the storm is among the top ten costliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
Florence devastated the local economies in the hardest-hit areas. But what effects do storms of this magnitude have on the U.S. economy – and jobs – as a whole?
Analysts are already predicting that Florence is likely to push consumer spending down across the entire economy. That’s because Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Sandy, and Katrina all had the same effect on spending.
Moody Analytics also projects that the storm will cut economic growth in the current quarter by one- to two-tenths of a percentage point. This effect comes from residents in affected areas forgoing spending in restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores.
What About Jobs?
Manufacturing facilities and their workers are likely to take a hit as a result of the storm, as manufacturers in storm-hit areas have been forced to shut down. In North Carolina, the hardest hit manufacturers are likely to be in the aerospace and biotech fields.
The storm will also impact next month’s job numbers for part-time workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest employment survey was conducted as residents evacuated ahead of Florence. This means many part-time workers won’t be counted on next month’s employment report. (However, employment numbers for full-time workers will not be affected.)
The hurricane won’t push down all economic indicators, though.
The lumber price index for structural panels rose ahead of Hurricane Florence as building owners bought plywood to shore up homes and businesses in the storm’s path. This price index rose to $477 in the week leading up to the storm, which was $6 higher than the previous week.
And one industry is sure to add jobs in the aftermath of the storm: construction.
It’s impossible to know yet how many construction jobs will be created – not only by Florence, but by the 2018 hurricane season as a whole. But as a reference, Hurricane Katrina created 7,800 jobs in Louisiana during the following year. And Hurricane Sandy created 26,500 jobs across New York and New Jersey.
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