Pharos-Tribune

Government shutdown

October 1, 2013

Labor: No plans to issue jobs data during shutdown

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department has no plans to release the closely watched U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday in case of a partial government shutdown that lasts through the week.

A Labor official with direct knowledge said Monday that there wouldn't be enough staffers on site to compile the jobs report. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

A document the department filed Friday said its Bureau of Labor Statistics, which prepares the jobs data, would have only three employees working in case of a partial government shutdown.

The monthly jobs report includes the unemployment rate and the number of jobs employers added. It is one of the most influential economic reports in the world. Its data can heavily affect global financial markets.

"In the event there is a lapse in funding, we will engage in an orderly shutdown on Tuesday morning," said Stephen Barr, a Labor Department spokesman. "All program operations will cease." Barr declined to elaborate.

If the White House and Congress fail to agree on a spending bill by Tuesday, much of the government will shut down.

Erica Groshen, commissioner of the BLS, said in a memo Friday that the agency would close. Groshen noted that during a government shutdown in 1995, the Labor Department issued a monthly report on inflation because the government had already gathered the data.

Groshen's memo implied that a similar approach could be taken with the jobs figures. But the data won't be ready by Tuesday, the Labor official said. Much of the work involved in compiling the employment data takes place between Tuesday and Thursday.

"The timing of any shutdown is critical," Groshen said in her memo. If the government shut down but reopened by Wednesday, it's possible the jobs report could be released Friday.

In contrast to the uncertainty surrounding the release of the jobs data, Labor plans to issue its weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits as scheduled Thursday. Those figures are gathered by state governments.

Officials at the Commerce Department have said that department will issue no regularly scheduled economic indicators if Congress fails to fund the government past Monday. That would mean that Tuesday's scheduled report on construction spending and Thursday's data on factory orders would be postponed. Commerce will release a revised schedule of economic reports once the shutdown ends.

The Treasury Department is expected to release a report on the budget deficit for September and the 2013 budget year sometime in mid-October, though the specific date hasn't been announced. The release of that report could be delayed by a prolonged shutdown, officials said.

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