Eclipse will have a big impact on the US economy and result in slower freight volumes for the week

The eclipse is expected to have a big impact on worker productivity and slower freight volumes

During every major sporting event that happens during normal working hours, economists estimate how much it will cost the US economy. The eclipse is no different. 

Freight is expected to be slower on Monday, as some shippers are slowing down their production for the day. Think of the eclipse as a holiday of sorts and you can guess what freight volumes will look like. One of the things that will be interesting to watch is what ends up happening to rates. Monday is always an interesting day when it comes to freight-rates, because many drivers guage the rate activity to determine whether they should head out on Monday or Tuesday. If they end up holding off until Tuesday hoping for a better rate enviornment, then the rates on Monday may not drop, but with the hangover of slower volumes for outbound on Monday shipments, Tuesday might be an off-day. Will be interesting to watch. Too bad we don’t have a forward curve to see how traders are viewing the market. 

According to executive outsourcing and recruiting firm, the eclipse is expected to cost the US economy nearly $700 million dollars. “American employers will see at least $694 million in missing output for the roughly 20 minutes that outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates workers will take out of their workday on Monday to stretch their legs, head outside the office and gaze at the nearly two-and-a-half minute eclipse.”

According to Andy Challenger, the estimate for how much time workers will ultimately lose to the eclipse– approximately 20 minutes – is probably conservative. That’s because some people might take additional time to set up their telescopes, or just linger outdoors on what’s expected to be a beautiful summer day. To get to $700 million figure, Challenger took one-third of the latest reading for US workers’ average hourly wage and multiplied it by the number of all workers 16 and over. By this logic, the final figure might be too generous, because only about half of Americans say they plan on watching the eclipse, according to a survey conducted earlier this month. Though that figure rises to 60% for workers in the eclipse’s narrow “zone of totality.”

That equates to roughly $35M a minunte in lost productivity during the time when folks are outside. But this is likely understated. In fact, based on early reports, some companies are giving workers the day off or honoring reduced schedules. It is not all bad news, however.

Many companies in the travel, hotel, and lodging industries are benefiting from the surge in activity over the weekend. Airbnb reported that the saw a nearly five-fold increase in weekend rentals. Marketing companies have gotten in on the action and developed campaigns to play on the uniqueness of the event. MoonPie, a snack brand reported record sales of its signature marshmellow-chocolate dessert. They commemorated the occassion with a special MoonPie Survival kit. According to a President of the company, “Demand has been off the charts.”


 Moonpie reported record sales and took advantage of a branding opportunity by selling total eclipse survival kits on amazon.
Moonpie reported record sales and took advantage of a branding opportunity by selling total eclipse survival kits on amazon.

Truckers should expect to see far greater impacts in lost productivity due to traffic and schedule changes. Assuming that projections for heavy traffic on major highways turn out to be true, I am sure that some drivers will wish that the eclipse happened in a different part of the world. After all, for drivers, time is money. Good thing for some the ELD mandate did not happen in 2017 or it would be harder to make up the hours lost to traffic and lunacy. 


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