Hot summer projected, not just weather
WEATHER: If nothing else, the weather will be toasty. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts an expansion of current drought conditions this summer throughout the nation. That includes California, which is suffering one of its driest starts of a year in history. Dry can be expensive. Researchers at Harris-Mann Climatology predict the current drought pattern may cause damages nearing $200 billion.
MOVIES: Equally hot. The record American summer box office take — $4.4 billion in 2011 — is said to be in jeopardy. A potentially sizzling lineup of blockbuster films — including brand names like “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Fast & Furious 6,” “Man of Steel,” “Monsters University” and “Despicable Me 2” — are expected to help pack theaters.
GASOLINE: The betting is cheaper. The federal Energy Information Administration forecasts summer 2013 pump prices nationwide will be 4 percent lower than 2012. Key to the savings? Lower crude oil costs, due in part to dropping demand for gasoline. Why? Any surges in travel have been more than offset by fuel-economy improvements.
ELECTRICITY: Warmth and a warming economy equals more power demand — but worrisome supply locally. Cal-ISO forecasts peak demand up 2 percent this summer statewide vs. a year ago. New power generation sources should keep pace. Well, everywhere except southern Orange County and San Diego. A continuing shutdown of San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station raises “reliability risks” of electricity supply this summer, Cal-ISO says. It doesn’t help that two Huntington Beach generators have been retired. Timely conservation will be key to keeping the lights on.
AIRPLANES: Just as crowded as last year. But just. Trade group Airlines for America expects U.S. airlines to carry some 209 million passengers globally from June through August — the busiest summer since 2008, but up a mere 1 percent from 2012. Could it be that airline tactics to keep limited schedules of nearly full planes and pricier fares pushes some vacationers to the highways?
JOBS: Those seeking summer work instead of play time will find an employment market quite similar to 2012. Online job poster CareerBuilder’s survey of employers found 29 percent saying they’d be hiring seasonal help — the exact same share as a year ago. CareerBuilder noted that this current level of summer hiring is above the average 21 percent of respondents who said they’d be adding season staff from 2008 to 2011.
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