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Flurry of temp workers fill posts during winter storms

A New Yorker walks over a snow covered street on the Upper East Side on New York as a major snow storms hits the Northeast possibly dumping up to 18 inches of snow in the city.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Can you imagine plowing every street in New York City? Actually, you had to imagine it ever since the big weekend snowstorm, because the street crews just now got around to finishing that mammoth job. Thousands of stranded air travelers were still being re-booked on flights home today.

We know that the storm buried New York under almost two feet of snow. But calculating the cost of it all may take longer. The mayor's office says there's a rule of thumb that every inch of snow costs $1 million to clean up. It's harder still to figure how much the storm set back thousands of New York businesses, which had to close their doors or get by on short staff. Marketplace's Gregory Warner reports.


Gregory Warner: When the snow falls, it's the temp agencies that get the call. At Bon Temps in Manhattan, the phones started Monday morning at six.

Nicole Kaufman: And it just rang all day long.

Nicole Kaufman says it was, by a long shot, her busiest day in 25 years.

Kaufman: We sent in receptionists, we sent in secretaries, we sent in administrative assistants, and some of these people -- just a few of them, of course -- are still there today. And that's a nice feeling, isn't it?

As for people that did not -- or still have not -- been able to get to work, some will lose vacation time, others get a snow day. Depends on your company.

At the financial services firm RR Donelly, Paul Lemma told me that human resources makes that decision.

Paul Lemma: They haven't made any decision yet but, no pun intended, we were able to weather the storm here.

By paying a lot of overtime to their skeleton crew, and ordering in.

Lemma: Pizzas for everyone, and sandwiches, and Chinese food and sushi, those type of places were running in lower Manhattan.

And how about those restaurants? In hard-hit South Brooklyn, one diner owner had all his stranded waiters sleeping upstairs in a single bed. Then there was the lone Chinese restaurant that kept its doors open Monday after the blizzard on Sheepshead Bay Road.

Ned Berke: And there was just a ton of people inside the place. Yeah, this is a little takeout, a little New York takeout Chinese place.

Ned Berke is a blogger for Sheepshead Bites.

Berke: And I see there's just one guy working the stove! And he's not answering the phone, which is ringing off the hook.

Further south, down in Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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