It looks like the sun is smiling on the economy. The green winter is propping up many businesses in various ways, and that "means more green in your wallet," says Marilyn Geewax at National Public Radio. Here, six ways the warm weather is helping the recovery along:
1. Fewer layoffs
In a typical January, about 424,000 workers are laid off for weather-related reasons. Not so this January, when only 206,000 people were let go because of bad weather, according to the Labor Department.
2. More jobs
The construction industry, which is notoriously vulnerable to the whims of weather, added 52,000 jobs in December and January. In the previous 12 months, the industry created only 32,000 jobs.
3. Lower gas costs
With less need to blast the heat, Americans are spending far less than usual to fuel their furnaces. The average consumer spent $643 this winter on natural gas, compared with $888 in the winter of 2008-2009.
4. More cash leads to more spending
With extra cash on hand, consumers spend more — which in turn boosts economic growth. For example, car sales increased in January by more than 11 percent over the previous January.
5. Some retail sales jump
Retailers that depend on winter merchandise saw their sales drop, but all-weather retailers experienced a jump. Home improvement chains Lowe's and Home Depot reported better-than-expected profits for the most recent quarter, saying homeowners were taking up renovation projects that normally would have waited until spring.
6. Cities save on cleanup costs
Winter snowstorms can wreak havoc on city budgets, and balmier weather reportedly helped some cities save millions. And that may mean fewer layoffs for cash-strapped local governments.
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