A number of reports suggested that bad weather would adversely affect today's unemployment data. The actual numbers, however, show that the blames may be misguided.
The week started with a warning from top Obama advisor Larry Summers, who on CNBC said that blizzards that affected much of the country during the last month are likely to distort the statistics.
Taking Summers' advice to look past whatever the next figures were and instead to gauge the underlying trends, some analysts and media disseminated their own dreary economic forecasts.
In an article headlined Blizzards seen slamming U.S. payrolls in February, Reuters stated that workers who stayed at home due to the bad weather would fall off Labor Department's payroll count.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected non-farm payrolls to drop 50,000, with some even predicting a drop of 150,000.
But the actual decline, released Friday at 8:30 am EST, was 36,000.
[W]orkers are counted as employed in the establishment survey if they are paid for a single hour during the reference pay period, whether they worked or not, explained Keith Hall, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
I would assume that most of them worked during the part of the pay period that preceded or followed the snow events, he said.
In fact, Hall believed that some workers may have been hired for snow removal or repairs, which would actually cushion the decline.
In the end, we cannot say how much the February's payroll employment was affected by the severe weather, he said.
But the weather is taking the blame for more than payrolls.
Lawrence Yun of National Association of Realtors said this week that the abnormally severe and prolonged winter weather will hamper shopping activity [for homes] in February.
He expects to see weak near-term sales followed by a likely surge of existing-home sales in April, May and June.
For the sake of the economy, we certainly hope for a short winter this year.