Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the policy of setting a geo-political entity's clock forward by one hour when there is more daylight during that time of the calendar year. This is done in an attempt to have greater amounts of daylight in the evenings compared to less daylight in the morning hours.
While much of The United States of America observes Daylight Saving Time, many of us are unfamiliar with the origins of the time change. Below we examine some frequently asked questions regarding Daylight Saving Time.
What is the History of Daylight Saving Time?
Every year around the end of October, media outlets report on the origins of Daylight Saving Time. While origins have developed over the years that Daylight Saving Time was implemented and began as a way to ration resources during the war effort in WWI, other origins include assistance for farmers (although that has been largely discredited).
Daylight Saving Time was originally proposed by Benjamin Franklin writing under an anonymous essay in 1784 as a way to reduce the cost of light.
It is true that the Second Reich of Germany implemented Daylight Saving Time as a way to reduce energy consumption during WWI. Other countries in Europe along with the United States followed this model before and after the conclusion of the War to End All Wars.
Near the conclusion of WWI, the United States Government implemented Daylight Saving Time, only to cede power to the individual states and local governments to allow for a more local version of Daylight Saving Time.
The interwar period had some states and local municipalities implementing Daylight Saving Time, while others did not.
In 1942, after the United States entered WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the year round Daylight Saving Time. However, with the conclusion of the Second World War, the Federal Government in the United States did not have any mandate for daylight saving and this decision was again left to the states and local government entities to decide on what was best for their locality.
The lack of uniformity led to confusion within the travel industry with regards to local times and people missing their scheduled departures. In 1967, this led to the transportation industry lobbying on behalf of an established and uniform daylight saving policy with an end date as the last Sunday of October.
In 2005, the Energy Policy Act amended the 1967 policy and adjusted the set back date to the first Sunday of November instead of the last day of October. This was supported by the National Association of Convenience Stores, the golf industry, the BBQ industry and the candy industry.
How are Business & Daylight Saving Time Related?
The extra daylight leads to more commerce for businesses. The more daylight there is, the more likely Americans are to spend money at businesses. More daylight after the working hours means more people barbecuing, more people with golf clubs on the driving range and more kids practicing soccer also leads to more adults in their vehicles, more miles on their cars and more money spent at the gas pump.
Extra daylight in the afternoon encourages additional consumer spending. Additional daylight and business in turn leads to a larger consumer spending.
Since the Energy Policy Act of 2005, went into effect in 2007 the fall back date has occurred on the first Sunday of November and no longer coincides with Halloween.
How are Halloween & Daylight Saving Time Related?
In 1985 and 1986, some business lobbies in Washington D.C. favored adding an extra month of Daylight Saving Time. The industry estimates of the barbecue and golf industry for the additional month of daylight was worth $100 million and $200 million respectively.
Another lobby highly interested in Daylight Saving Time was the candy lobby.
Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time stated that during the 1985 hearings the candy lobby put candy pumpkins on the seat of every senator hoping to move the needle in the direction of their own interests.
While Daylight Saving Time was not extended until the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the candy industry eventually achieved their goal. The extended amount of daylight on Halloween increases consumer spending for candy. The more trick-or-treaters, the more the American population spends on Halloween candy to provide a treat for the costumed children.
Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time has not impacted Halloween and has led to an extra hour of sunlight for trick or treaters in the afternoon and evening. This extra amount of daylight, some have argued, allows trick or treaters to enjoy more of the holiday and creates a safer environment for pedestrians and reduces auto accidents involving motor vehicles and trick-or-treaters on foot.
Why Do Some States & Territories Choose To Not Observe Daylight Saving Time?
In the United States, 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia observe Daylight Saving Time, with the exception being Arizona and Hawaii. While some US Overseas territories observe Daylight Saving Time, territories in the regions of Polynesia, Micronesia and Caribbean territories do not observe Daylight Saving Time. These U.S. territories include American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
With the exception of Arizona, all of the states and overseas territories are located within the tropics (between 23.5° S and 23.5° N). Due to the tropics proximity to the equator, these geographic areas have less fluctuations between the average amounts of sunlight received compared to states in North America. These tropical states and overseas territories have ample sunshine throughout the day and throughout the calendar year that minimizes their local needs for seasonal time adjustments.
When Does Daylight Saving Time Begin?
In 2021, Daylight Saving Time begins on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 AM local time. At 2:00 AM, the clocks roll or fall back to 1:00AM local time.
A schedule for Daylight Saving Time start and end dates can be found below:
This year, when the clocks fall back, keep in mind the history of Daylight Saving Time and the impact lobbyists can actually have on society. Enjoy the extra hour of trick-or-treating!