After intimating that Hurricane Sandy could be an impediment to a timely release of the October jobs report, the U.S. Labor Department issued a statement on Monday saying it is “working hard to ensure” the report will be out on Friday, as anticipated. These all-important employment numbers will be the final glimpse of the labor market ahead of the November elections. It is conceivable that the report will be a make-or-break factor for the president in the eyes of some voters, especially undecideds.
The Wall Street Journal quotes a statement by Carl Fillichio, a senior press advisor at the department, who wrote, “It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual.”
Federal government offices in Washington are closed today and are likely to remain shuttered again on Tuesday due to the storm, which is due to make landfall Monday afternoon.
The Journal notes that the surveys from which the October employment numbers will be culled were conducted earlier this month. Yet it is unclear how much additional prep work needs to occur before the employment data goes public. The shutdown of the Washington region’s public transportation system coupled with strong winds and heavy rain could create a hardship for workers attempting to reach their offices.
Some conservative commentators are speculating that the announcement of a delay until after the election was orchestrated by the administration, which fears that a return of the unemployment rate to above 8% could be a final nail in the president’s chances for re-election.
A delay, the article notes in closing, would not be a first. The article’s author, Eric Morath, points out that a government shutdown in 1996 delayed not only the jobs report but a report on the gross domestic product as well.