Monday, October 29, 2012

BLS May Delay Jobs Numbers Until After Election (UPDATED)

BLS now says they will release employment data this Friday-on time.

You may recall in early October I posted a story called BLS(BS) Strikes Again where I noted that the lower jobless claims was attributed to "one large state" that did not report their numbers. The number were revised upwards by 3,000 workers.  In addition, I pointed out that the seemingly impossible drop in unemployment (the biggest drop in 24 years), where only 114k jobs were added, was the result of the "household survey" that samples 50k households. Because the sample is small it often has a large margin of error of about plus or minus 500k jobs! As a result we would expect that this was merely an outlier that would be adjusted in the final jobs figure to be reported this Friday.

Or maybe not.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that the BLS will try to release the figures:

The U.S. Labor Department on Monday said it is “working hard to ensure the timely release” of the October jobs report, saying it intends to released the report on schedule Friday despite Hurricane Sandy.
“It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual,” said Carl Fillichio, a senior press advisor at Labor. Mr. Fillichio’s statement provided clarity to an earlier Labor statement that said the agency would assess how to handle data releases this week after the “weather emergency” is over.
Friday’s employment report will be the final read on the labor market ahead of the November elections. Initial reports that a delay was possible briefly fueled speculation that the jobs data, good or bad, might not be revealed until after the elections.

Given the likely correction in the household survey that will likely correct upwards the unemployment rate and the strong likely hood that new unemployment figures will be higher given all the layoff notices going out, the administration would like nothing better than to have these numbers delayed until after election day.

Too conspiratorial? Maybe, but it would fit a pattern lately of flawed data coming out of the government.

We'll see.

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