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Harvey Contributes to First U.S. Industrial Drop in Months

Harvey had at one point impacted almost 30% of the nation’s total refining capacity.


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Hurricane Harvey is seen from NASA’s Aqua satellite moving over Texas and Louisiana on August 30, 2017.

In August, after six months of gain, the nation’s industrial sector output was down .9%, and Hurricane Harvey is partly to blame.

The Federal Reserve Bank says within this sector, the refining and petrochemical industries took the biggest hits from the storm. Harvey had at one point impacted almost 30% of the nation's total refining capacity. Mining saw a .8% percent loss in August, largely thanks to Harvey halting oil and gas drilling in South Texas and in the Gulf.

Ed Hirs, who teaches energy economics at the University of Houston, says the industrial downturn will likely be short-lived.

“As the plants come back online, they will pick up producing and manufacturing really about where they were, because Harvey did not destroy any of the economic engine,” he says.

It wasn't just Harvey that hit the industrial sector: recent mild temperatures in the Northeast cut demand for air conditioning, which dropped output from utilities there. And Hirs says after Harvey and Irma, we might even see a brief industrial rebound, as Texas and Florida dig into the long task of rebuilding.

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