Florida's economy poised to take a major hit through Hurricane Irma

Hurricane slams Cuba, heads toward Florida

Florida is actually bracing for a possibly catastrophic hit through Hurricane Irma, as well as even with the fourth largest economy within the United States, the economic impact to the Sunshine State could be severe.

As scores of people fled the storm, gas stations were depleted of fuel as well as major stores announced shortages of water as well as different supplies. The state’s tourism industry, which draws billions of dollars as well as millions of visitors each year, could take a major hit if infrastructure as well as airports are badly damaged.

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Here’s all the ways Hurricane Irma could impact Florida’s businesses as well as economy.

Air travel

Irma has already destroyed or badly damaged airports, runways as well as different infrastructure within the Caribbean Islands, halting commercial air travel. Next, the item’s headed for several key airports in Florida.

Miami, Orlando as well as Fort Lauderdale are home to the 12th, 13th, 21st largest airports within the U.S., handling more than 115 million passengers in 2016.

right now of which the storm appears to be headed toward the peninsula’s western coast, Tampa — home to Tampa International Airport — is actually bracing for what could be a devastating direct hit through Irma. Tampa International the 29th busiest U.S. airport by passenger count. The airport says the item will shut down completely by 8 p.m. ET Saturday through Monday.

All of southern as well as central Florida’s airports are likely to shutter operations by Saturday evening as the area braces for Irma, which is actually likely to make landfall on Sunday.

the item’s not clear how long the airports will remain shuttered. American Airlines (AAL) said the item’ll all depend on how well the airports hold up within the storm as well as how long the item’ll take crewmembers to get back to work.


the item’s already been a rough year for the famed Florida oranges. The state’s fruit industry has been hit by “citrus greening,” a plant disease of which has wiped out crops as well as cut production by about two-thirds in recent years.

Irma could make things even worse. The damaging winds Irma is actually likely to bring could rip the fruit off of trees, ruining the crops, just as the harvest season is actually about to begin.

Orange juice prices have already been creeping higher as Florida braces for the storm.

different crops may be spared Irma’s wrath, yet the item’ll depend on the storm’s course, which is actually still uncertain.

Florida’s agriculture, fishing as well as horticulture industries bring in $150 billion per year.


Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility company, is actually warning of which as many as 9 million residents could be affected by power outages at some point during the storm. About 20,000 homes in southeast Florida have already lost power because of heavy winds as well as rain, Governor Rick Scott said Saturday. Some people in South Florida could be without electricity for weeks.

“which has a storm of of which magnitude, there will be widespread destruction throughout our service territory, as well as most of the item will be within the most densely populated areas of South Florida,” the utility’s CEO, Eric Silagy, said in a statement. “of which likely will be one of the most challenging restorations of which our country has ever seen.”

The utility also said Thursday of which two nuclear power generating stations are shutting down before Irma hits.

Combined, the plants produce enough electricity to power nearly 2 million homes for one year. the item’s not yet clear when they’ll be able to come back online.


As mandatory evacuations were issued, fuel shortages have been rampant across Florida gas stations as residents rushed to top off before heading north. Nearly 40% of Miami’s gas stations, for example, were completely out of stock Friday.

The shortages have been made worse by the fact of which a significant chunk of U.S. refinery capacity was knocked offline when Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast two weeks ago.

The nationwide average gas cost has spiked more than 32 cents since then, to $2.67, as well as the item’s even worse in Florida, where the average cost is actually up to $2.73.


Florida’s endless miles of sandy beaches are also its goldmine. Tourists are drawn to its shores as well as theme parks, most notably Disney World as well as Universal Studios. as well as visitors pump billions of dollars into the state’s economy every year.

as well as for the southern string of islands known as the Florida Keys, which are likely to take a direct hit through Irma, tourism is actually the single largest industry. the item accounts for $2.7 billion of business a year, 60% of spending as well as 54% of jobs within the region.

the item’s not peak season for visiting the Keys, yet authorities as well as business leaders are worried about the damage Irma could inflict to the hotels as well as different buildings within the area. If Irma leaves significant damage the item, the item could be a major problem for the local economy.

Overall economy

Florida’s economy has been chugging along lately, showing promising signs of recovery after the 2008 market crash wreaked havoc on the state. Unemployment rates are down, growth is actually up as well as fresh homes were being built across the state.

yet Irma could change all of which.

The storm could have an immediate impact on the job market. After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas two weeks ago, jobless claims surged to the highest level in more than tow years. Irma has the potential to be even worse.

Florida’s economic recovery has been fueled by people moving to the state in droves. yet, if Irma causes significant damage, the item could trigger a slowdown in migration as well as stall further growth.

–sy88pgw’s Chris Isidore, Matt Egan as well as Jon Ostrower contributed to of which report.

sy88pgw (fresh York) First published September 9, 2017: 9:49 AM ET

Florida's economy poised to take a major hit through Hurricane Irma

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