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Brutal winter has cost the country $50 billion so far

Brutal Winter Costs Economy $50 Billion

The winter you won't soon forget is taking its toll on the US economy -- in a big way.

Bad weather means bad news for retailers, as sales tumbled in January. The storms have cost the country $15 billion in lost productivity, and industrial production was down 0.3 in January. The FED was citing the weather.

It's being called "frozenomics," and the impact of the harshest winter in recent memory is affecting the economy across the board.

First, we had the "polar vortex" in early January. Record cold temperatures literally froze cities across the country.

A few weeks later, a strong winter storm slammed the South. In Atlanta, ice brought economic activity to a standstill. People were stranded on highways for as long as 20 hours.

And now, back-to-back storms in the Northeast have dumped several feet of snow in some places, knocking out power and collapsing roofs.

A new poll conducted by CNBC estimates the total cost to the economy at $50 billion. Retailers were hit hard as auto, furniture and department sales plunged. Job growth also stalled, and an estimated 80,000 jobs were lost because of the bad weather.

... And then there's the airlines. After a strong 2013, they've hit some, well, turbulence.

"Thanks to the brutal winter weather we've been seeing, the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years," NBC reported.

Of course restaurants are also taking big hits.

MSNBC explains that "The food industry is also hurting where restaurant owners can only keep their fingers crossed. When the weather comes in like this, a good probably 75 percent of the business for the day is shot.

There are, of course, some businesses that love the cold weather. Snow plowing operations have been raking it in.

Utility companies have been doing well as people keep turning up the heat, and natural gas prices have soared over the past couple months.

Economists are predicting the next quarter to be much better as the weather improves and consumers are actually able to get out into the world so they can spend some money.

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