Shutdown casts doubt on release of monthly jobs report

October 2, 2013
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The government shutdown that started Tuesday could prevent the Bureau of Labor Statistics from releasing its monthly employment report, which serves as the basis of an economic and political obsession known as “jobs day” among White House officials.

BLS had planned to reveal the September numbers on Friday, but the agency is down to just three workers due to a lapse on congressional appropriations that allows only “essential” operations to continue.

Labor Department spokesman Stephen Barr did not respond on Tuesday to questions about whether the BLS will release the national jobs numbers this month.

BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen said in a memo last week that the White House Office of Management and Budget could authorize her agency to put out high-priority economic data during the shutdown.

(Richard Drew/AP)
(Richard Drew/AP)

The monthly jobs reports, which include 24 tables of economic data, can have an impact on markets and politics, as they influence Federal Reserve policies, investor decisions and even the president’s approval rating.

The report would be particularly important this month as the Federal Reserve tries to make a decision on when to pull back on its multibillion-dollar economic stimulus program that involves bond purchases to create downward pressure on interest rates.

The unemployement rate in August remained practically unchanged at 7.3 percent, but the workforce participation rate reached a 35-year low, with only 63.2 percent of working-age Americans either holding a job or looking for one, according to the latest BLS report.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Steve Vogel | October 1, 2013