It’s only mid-June, and huge swaths of the country are already experiencing — or bracing for — major heat waves. More than 70 million Americans are under extreme heat alerts, and temperatures in parts of the West have been above 100 degrees.

The Midwest and Northeast are the next regions headed into the oven.

During the winter months, we often hear about cold weather and snowstorms playing havoc with retail sales or other economic activity, but there’s growing evidence that summer heat waves take a big economic toll too — and that their impact is growing as the climate warms.

On a recent really hot day, workers were fixing masonry on the roof of Amir Jina’s building.

“And the head contractor said, ‘During the hotter parts of the day, I’m just not going to send out people to work,’” he said.

Jina, who’s an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, said the contractor was worried about the health effects on the workers — and the potential for costly errors amid the heat. So the crew took more time to finish the job.

“Probably would have taken two days, ended up taking three or four days just because they needed to stop,” he said.

This happens in a lot of industries when temperatures become unbearable and it’s unsafe to work outdoors.

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Climate change is already altering lives every day. The Climate Impact Lab is building the world’s most comprehensive body of research quantifying the impacts of climate change sector-by-sector, community-by-community, around...