As workers put aside work and went out to watch a once-in-a-century solar eclipse on Monday, the lost productivity may cost U.S. companies at least 694 million U.S. dollars.
Workers took at least 20 minutes to watch the solar eclipse on a working day, estimated Andy Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an American outplacement firm.
The rare astronomical event, known as Great American Eclipse, can be observed throughout the whole country, and a total solar eclipse can be seen in 14 states.
"There're very few people who are not going to walk outside when there's a celestial wonder happening above their heads to go out and view it," Challenger said, estimating that 87 million employees were working during the eclipse.
To get the cost for employers, Challenger multiplied the figure of working employees by the estimated watching time and the average hourly wages estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Compared to the amount of wages being paid to an employee over a course of a year, it is very small," Challenger said. "It's not going to show up in any type of macroeconomic data."
According to data compiled by Reuters and Axios, an American media outlet, the 700-million-dollar cost is eclipsed by other big events like Cyber Monday and Super Bowl. For example, companies lost about 1.7 billion dollars per hour as workers discussed with each other about the game and watched game highlights on the Monday after the game.