The fiscal cliff's impact on hiring may be harder to quantify. Even if companies aren't cutting jobs because of the cliff, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome is likely delaying some hiring, economists say.
Measures of hiring fell in two surveys released this week by the Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group of purchasing managers. Some companies in the service sector told the ISM that economic uncertainty was delaying hiring.
The storm also held back consumer spending and income, which drive economic growth. Consumers spending fell 0.2 percent in October, the weakest showing since May. Incomes were flat, after rising 0.4 percent in September.
Work interruptions caused by Sandy reduced wages and salaries in October by about $18 billion at an annual rate, the government said.
The U.S. grew at a solid 2.7 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. But many economists say growth is slowing to a 1.5 percent rate in the October-December quarter, largely because of the storm and threat of the fiscal cliff. That's not enough growth to lower the unemployment rate.
Still, many say economic growth could accelerate next year if the fiscal cliff is avoided. The economy is also expected to get a boost from efforts to rebuild in the Northeast after the storm.