Irma will slow down US economy: Analyst

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Hurricane Irma affected local economies and that cost will impact US GDP, according to an analyst.

FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - Hurricane Irma may be going away, but the damage it caused will stick around for months.

During Irma, more than six million people in Florida were evacuated.

And almost seven million homes and businesses lost electricity there and in the neighboring states.

In Florida, the biggest US orange producer, rain flooded groves and heavy wind stripped fruit from trees.

In Georgia, which exports almost a third of all US poultry, the biggest US meat company, Tyson Foods, closed chicken and beef plants.

Mr Andrew Boyarsky, who runs risk, operations and emergency management programmes at Yeshiva University, says Irma also impacted other parts of local economies, such as school systems, real estate, and tourism, and that will, in turn, hurt productivity and wages.

Mr Boyarsky, academic director of risk, operations and emergency management programs at the Yeshiva University Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies (English) says: "We may see a slowdown in economic activity, certainly in the Florida area as the recovery effort is underway."

Mr Boyarsky also says the slowdown will trickle down to the overall US economy.

Moody's Analytics puts the economic cost of Hurricane Irma at between US$64 and $92 billion (S$86 to S$123 billion). It also sees Irma's and Harvey's combined hit to national real GDP growth in the third quarter at close to 0.5 percentage points.

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