The Labor Department is striving to issue its monthly report on employment in the U.S. in three days as scheduled, a spokesman said today.
“The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, November 2,” Carl A. Fillichio, the department’s senior adviser for communications and public affairs, said in an e-mailed response to a Bloomberg inquiry. The report on October employment is due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington on Nov. 2.
The jobs report, the last before the election, may help sway voters trying to decide between giving President Barack Obama another four years in office or to change course with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The Obama administration has pointed to 24 straight months of job growth as evidence the economy is improving, while the Romney campaign has said progress is too slow.
Payrolls probably rose by 125,000 workers in October, and the jobless rate increased to 7.9 percent from a three-year low of 7.8 percent reached in September, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The data won’t be affected by Hurricane Sandy because the surveys of employers and households were conducted in the middle of the month, before the storm struck.
Federal government agencies in Washington were closed for a second day today in the wake of Sandy, the Atlantic’s largest-ever tropical storm. Federal agencies will reopen tomorrow, according to a statement on the website of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
If the Washington office remained closed, “I think the BLS is going to try to do it anyways using some of their satellite offices,” Austan Goolsbee, a former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, said on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu.
Sandy prompted the Conference Board yesterday to postpone its consumer confidence data until Nov. 1. The New York-based group’s report on October sentiment was initially slated for release today.
Jack Welch, the former chief executive officer of General Electric Co., suggested the Obama administration had manipulated the jobs data for political advantage after the September unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to the lowest level since the president took office in January 2009. Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, called Welch’s comments “irresponsible.”
Prior to September, joblessness had exceeded 8 percent for 43 straight months, the longest such stretch since at least 1948.
Ronald Reagan is the only president to have been re-elected since World War II with unemployment above 6 percent. On Election Day 1984, the rate was at 7.2 percent, having dropped almost three percentage points in the previous 18 months.