How Does Weird Weather Affect National Employment?

July 17, 2017

Employees Standing in Sun

Checking the daily weather report helps you plan what to wear, and can provide insights into the job market. With a new model from San Francisco Fed research advisor Daniel Wilson, economists are exploring the effects of short-run weather aberrations on employment.

Seasonal fluctuations in the weather and employment are expected, of course. Understanding how rain, snow, and heat affect the economy is essential for interpreting economic data. Wilson’s model takes these considerations a step further. It tracks how atypical weather helps explain some unexpected fluctuations in hiring at the national level.

“Aberrations like heatwaves, severe snowstorms, excessive rainfall, and unusually mild winters can have immediate, and potentially lingering, impacts on local and even national economies,” explained Wilson in a recent Economic Letter.

For example, Wilson’s model suggests that spring-like weather in February and March 2016 pulled economic activity that normally would’ve happened in May forward to earlier months.

Tracking weather-adjusted changes in employment is now an ongoing project for the San Francisco Fed, with estimates released to the public monthly. For data covering the last six months, visit our Weather-Adjusted Employment Change page.

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