What Was the Economic Impact of the Largest Blackout in North America?

In August 2003, a blackout in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada left roughly 50 million people without power for about two days and was estimated to have resulted in an economic impact of about $10 billion US Dollars (USD). This figure takes into account production losses, overtime wages and lost or spoiled commodities such as food. Some businesses lost as much as $1 million USD per hour, research shows. Government agencies responding to the emergencies were found to have spent as much as $100 million USD, and spoiled food was estimated to caused more than $900 million USD in losses.

More about blackouts:

  • More than half of all manufacturers in Ohio were shut down by the 2003 blackout, losing an estimated $88,000 USD each.

  • Non-disaster power outages in the US increased by 124% from 1990 through 2010.

  • The amount of time that Americans lose power typically ranges from about 90 to 200 minutes per year, depending on the state. In Japan, the average is four minutes of power loss per year.
More Info: elcon.org

Discussion Comments


Wow, until reading this, I'd actually never heard of it. Did it affect mostly everyone in the United States, or only some select people? I live in Illinois, but I don't particularly remember it affecting me. However, regardless of whether I remember it or not, that's a very unfortunate event.


That is totally outrageous! But I have a question: what about Canada? How long was their power out?

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