Boost The Economy With Permanent Daylight Saving Time?

A bill to permanently switch to daylight saving time in November 2023 has achieved a rare feat: garnering support from both sides of the aisle. According to some members of Congress, the Sunshine Protection Act could jump-start the economy.

By giving Americans an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day, they will have more daylight hours to shop and spend money, and they will spend less on energy due to a lower demand for lighting, according to lawmakers’ remarks in a press release.

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However, PNC economist Kurt Rankin, who looked into studies about time shifts and their impact on the economy, suggests a permanent shift to DST having any economic benefits may be wishful thinking. There has not been much research on the issue, and the research that does exist is limited in scope.

"From an economist perspective, I think the benefits will be minimal," Rankin told CBS MoneyWatch. "It's not something that is going to cure the woes that are facing the U.S. economy over the next year or two — the inflation concerns, rising interest rates, the supply chain shortages."

In 2016, the JP Morgan Chase Institute found that consumer spending decreased by 3.5% after DST ended in November, suggesting some consumers dial back spending when there are fewer hours of daylight at the end of the day for them to shop or run errands. But this study focused solely on Los Angeles, raising questions about potential benefits for the entire country.

One sector of the economy that could benefit from the change, according to Rankin: Hospitality businesses such as restaurants and hotels. More daylight in the evening could boost demand in the industry, which would help those businesses as well as gig workers for companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate on March 15 but now must be approved by the House and signed into law by President Biden.

In 2019, an AP-NORC poll found that about 30% of Americans support year-round DST, 30% want to keep the current system, and 40% support keeping standard time all year. In the end, the reason many support the change to DST will likely not be about economics, but about personal preference. Americans "may simply enjoy having the additional daylight," as JPMorgan Chase put it.