January’s record snow fall affects more than our aching backs. While these storms may mean no school or homework for days, giving happy children a chance to sled and make snow angels, they also adversely impact many businesses and hourly workers. When people are unable to get to work, they also do not shop and restaurants remain empty as people hunkered down in their homes. This translates into big revenue hits for small businesses. While many salaried workers are paid, despite the shutdowns, hourly wage earners suffered a direct and immediate hit to their paychecks. Hourly workers who cannot get to work don’t get paid.
A 2010 study by IHS Global Insight, a Boston-based economics consulting firm, found that hundreds of millions of dollars in economic opportunity are lost each day that a state is snowed in and the roads are impassable.
The study which examined the economic impact of snowstorms in 16 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, showed:
- A one-day major snowstorm can cost a state $300 to $700 million both direct and indirect costs.
- Among all economic classes, snow-related shutdowns harm hourly workers the most, accounting for almost two-thirds of direct economic losses and representing America’s most economically vulnerable demographic.
“Lost wages of hourly workers account for about two-thirds of the direct economic impact of a major snowstorm,” said James Gillula, Managing Director of Global Insight and the principal researcher of the study. “Among all workers, hourly wage workers can suffer the most painful economic losses and the indirect economic effects of their lost wages can ripple through the economy.”