Financial pros & cons of daylight saving time

While I was sitting in the dark last night (at 5pm) I couldn’t help but wonder: Are we saving anything but daylight with daylight saving time (DST)? I found some interesting statistics about the financial implications of DST—both positive and negative.

Stats related to the 4-week extension of DST that began last year:

-When Congress voted to extend daylight saving time, lawmakers justified the act as a way to reduce energy consumption. However, a study of actual energy usage in Indiana suggests that daylight saving time may really result in increased energy use.

-It is rumored that candy companies pushed to extend daylight saving time so trick-or-treaters could stay out later, thus increasing candy sales.

-The Air Transport Association argued that the adjustment would throw U.S. international schedules further out of sync with Europe. It said the extension would cost the U.S. airline industry $147 million and disrupt overseas travel.

-Updating software to accommodate the DST shift in 2007 cost an estimated $500 million to $1 billion.

Stats related to DST in general:

-There's a cost when dealing with someone who follows a different set of rules. For example, if Arizona uses different rules than Texas, you can't always assume that they're one hour apart.

-DST changes may be impacting market participants internationally. In 2000 the daylight-saving effect implied an estimated one-day loss of $31 billion on U.S. stock exchanges.

-DST can adversely affect farmers and others whose hours are set by the sun. For example, grain harvesting is best done after dew evaporates, so when field hands arrive and leave earlier in summer their labor is less valuable.

-The author of "Seize the Daylight, the Curious Contentious story of Daylight Saving Time" argues that DST helps the economy grow by allowing people to shop later.

What do you think about DST?

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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