Hurricanes may cost 100,000 jobs, wildfires drive air quality alert

We’re still in immediate recovery mode from Hurricane Irma damage. Watery storm surge scenes like this one from Key West also appeared in Miami, Jacksonville, and Charleston.

Even as we pick up the pieces from Irma, economists are in the process of assessing damage costs for Hurricane Harvey. CNBC reports the latest projections find that ‘hurricane disruption’ could lower Q3 GDP by 1%, and may cost as many as 100,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

Costs from the storm, which hammered Texas last month, will eclipse those associated with 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, the bank’s analysts wrote in a research note. Using a model that examined the 35 largest hurricanes to strike the U.S. in the aftermath of World War II, Goldman found that major natural disasters correlated closely with a “temporary slowdown” in key economic gauges.

“Modeling these effects, we estimate that hurricane-related disruptions could reduce 3Q GDP growth by as much as 1 percentage point,” Goldman’s analysts wrote, adding that the main impact would be felt in consumer spending, business inventories, housing and the energy sectors.

Accordingly, the bank forecast a “meaningful drag” on growth indicators for the next two months, which could extend to a short-lived drag on September payrolls ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 jobs. Because of a jump in gas prices, Goldman also expects short-term price pressure that will add 0.2 percentage points to annual headline inflation.

Grist elaborates on assessing the growing economic costs of Harvey and Irma.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Texas and Florida are expected to fall behind on their mortgage payments, bringing fears of an uptick in foreclosures. About 10 percent of the U.S. population were directly impacted by the storms, according to Goldman Sachs.

The combined effect of the two hurricanes will leave an economic toll greater than Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Federal agencies have been warning for years of the increasing economic toll of climate-related disasters, and the recent storms fit a pattern of more frequent large-scale weather disasters.

Smoke from western fires prompts air quality alerts

Intense smoke plumes from persistent western wildfires continue to drift eastward over Minnesota. Check out this NOAA satellite loop from September 3rd.

Some of the smoke has mixed down to ground level in Minnesota. The MPCA has issued an air quality alert for Thursday.

Here are the latest air quality reading from the MPCA.

  • ptoadstool

    The West burns every summer now, and we can no longer enjoy blue skies and fresh air here in Minnesota during August and September. I remember when I was a kid and could see the stars at night. A blood red sun was a rarity. It never rained in January. Weather systems paraded through fairly quickly instead of lingering for many days. We are ruining our planet.