In the wake of two especially damaging natural disasters, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the JPMorgan Chase Institute (JPMCI) analyzed the impact of these events on consumer financial outcomessmall business resilience, and local consumer commerce in Miami and Houston to understand how they affected local economies in the weeks and months after landfall. Together, these reports shed light on the financial experiences and decisions of consumers and small businesses before, during, and after the storms. The findings provide insight into the financial resilience of these communities, and reveal important takeaways for individuals, businesses, and policymakers. By learning from past natural disasters, leaders can better prepare for and respond to future natural disasters.

The JPMorgan Chase Institute leverages the firm’s proprietary transaction data to develop economic insights for the public good. For this research, we assembled data assets that included nearly 1 million households, 40,000 small businesses, and 24 billion anonymized card transactions within the Houston and Miami metropolitan areas during the weeks and months before a major natural disaster, with the goal of providing a high-frequency lens into the financial impact of these hurricanes.

Key Findings:

  • Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a major financial disruption for families and businesses.
  • While consumers and small businesses in both Houston and Miami may have seen inflows and outflows return to normal and hence healthy balances, they continue to see significant welfare impacts. Consumers spent significantly less on both healthcare and debt payments. Both consumers and small businesses may be preparing for or continuing to pay for construction repairs.
  • Harvey’s impact on Houston was negative across all three of our data lenses, leading to a near-total halt in commerce across Houston’s geography, business size, income, and demographics. Irma’s impact differed from that of Harvey, with less pronounced declines in local commerce during the month of landfall.