Merchant Innovation

The Blizzard That Wasn’t Cost NYC $200M

New York City lost an estimated $200 million in economic activity between the fizzled snow storm and the concurrent decision to shut down mass transit in preparation for the snow.  That loss won’t be crippling, but will hit small business and lower-wage hourly workers particularly hard.

“Now that does sound like a lot of money, but when you think about last year, where we had a polar vortex, several weeks of that, more population centers impacted as well as above-normal snowfall, last year’s overall economic impact is pegged at anywhere from $15 billion to $50 billion,” he said. “So in comparison, this is actually a relatively small event.”

That is Evan Gold, senior vice president for Planalytics, a firm that advises companies on weather issues. They estimate that all in all, economic losses for the total Northeast, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston, will clock in around $500 million.

However, while it could have been worse, many workers are complaining about the unnecessary loss of wages.

“It’s a big deal, because I only work three nights out of the week,” said 26-year-old Lenice Ferguson. “My check is going to be short, and I have bills that I have to pay,” Ferguson told the AP. She is a baker at Insomnia Cookies and saw her employer close 7 hours early this week to accommodate the storm.

NYC closed its subways, rails, bridges and tunnels as of Monday night, and residents were ordered off street by 11 pm.  However, by Tuesday AM when it was clear the storm would only produce 8 inches of snow, as opposed to the forecasted two feet, transportation reopened.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said economic loss was much less than it would have been had the storm hit in full force, and that taking precautions helped the city get back online faster. Moody’s Analytics estimates that storm costs and damages could have swelled to as much as $16 billion had the storm been the full force direct hit that was forecasted.

“I will always err on the side of safety and caution,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “We had consistently been getting reports talking about two feet or more of snow. To me it was a no-brainer, we had to take precautions to keep people safe.”


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