Speed Reads

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How this brutal winter screwed up the labor market, in one illuminating chart

If this winter has felt particularly long, cold, snowy, and miserable, that's because it actually has been. Last month, we noted how extreme weather kept an unusually high number of workers at home this season, per Bureau of Labor statistics data. But at the time, the data only ran through January, providing an incomplete comparison to other years. Well, on Friday the BLS released its February jobs report, and it showed that full-time employees again missed many workdays for weather-related reasons.

The following chart shows workdays missed, in thousands, from November through February of a given year:

By that metric, this winter has been the fourth-worst in the past three decades. But unlike the years with even more missed workdays, the U.S. didn't get slammed by a singular, devastating blizzard this year. In other words, the inclement weather has been more persistent — a string of mini-storms as opposed to one massive disruption.

And all that nasty weather has directly hindered the economic recovery. Despite strong job growth in February, the unemployment rate ticked up from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent last month as more than 600,000 full-time employees missed work due to the weather.

At least spring is finally almost here.