Labor Department Says Hurricane May Affect Jobs Report
The U.S. Labor Department will wait to gauge the impact of Hurricane Sandy before determining the status of the October jobs report, the last before next week’s presidential election.
The monthly employment data are scheduled to be released Nov. 2 at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. The median forecasts of economists surveyed by Bloomberg call for payrolls to rise by 125,000 workers in October and for the jobless rate to increase to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.
“We will assess the situation when the weather emergency is over and notify the press and public of any changes at that time,” Labor Department spokesman Gary Steinberg said in an e- mailed statement today.
The jobs report 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.
Jack Welch, the former chief executive officer of General Electric Co. (GE), 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.
In a separate statement today, Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio said the agency is “working hard” to ensure that the data will be released as scheduled.
“It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October employment situation report,” he said.
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