Hurricane Sandy May Delay Final Pre-election US Jobs Report

 @moranzhang
on October 29 2012 12:43 PM
Unemployment
Unemployed person seeking a job. Reuters

The U.S. Labor Department said Monday it has yet to make a decision on whether to delay Friday’s closely watched October jobs report, the final reading on the labor market before the presidential election, due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The October jobs report was scheduled to be released on Friday at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists’ projections point to an uninspiring rise in headline payrolls of about 123,000, only slightly better than the disappointing 114,000 job gains recorded in September. The unemployment rate, which unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent in September, is expected to tick up to 7.9 percent in October.

Manufacturing jobs likely contracted by 3,000 in October, after shrinking by 16,000 in September. Wage growth probably remained soft. Economists forecast average hourly earnings to increase 0.2 percent from the prior month and the average workweek to be unchanged at 34.5 hours.

This employment report is the last that might sway undecided voters ahead of Election Day.

Federal government offices in Washington are closed Monday and may be shut again Tuesday due to the storm. It isn’t clear if the closure would cause a delay in processing the data.

“We will assess the situation when the weather emergency is over and notify the press and public of any changes at that time,” Gary Steinberg, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data arm of the department, told the Wall Street Journal.

Hurricane Sandy has caused widespread power outages and transport disruptions, and it isn’t clear whether the government statisticians will be able to complete the preparation of the jobs report before scheduled release time.

The Labor Department is also scheduled to release its third-quarter employment cost index on Wednesday and the third-quarter productivity and weekly jobless claims reports Thursday.

The U.S. Census Bureau also said it hasn’t made a decision on whether to delay economic reports it plans to release this week, including construction spending on Thursday and factory orders on Friday.

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