Bureau of Labor Statistics to Suspend Operation in U.S. Shutdown

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will suspend all operations in the event of a federal government shutdown next week, according to a contingency plan posted on Labor Department’s website today.

Weekly data on claims for unemployment benefits, issued by the Employment and Training Administration, will continue to be released, the Labor Department said.

The department left open the possibility of publishing certain data compiled by BLS, including the Oct. 4 employment report, should a release be deemed to be part of an “orderly cessation of activities,” according to the plan.

The department cited the example of the 1995 federal government shutdown, which occurred after consumer price index figures had been prepared and not yet released to the public.

“The risk of disclosure of the CPI data during a shutdown was deemed to be an unacceptable and releasing the CPI report was deemed to be part of the orderly cessation of activities,” Erica Groshen, commissioner of the BLS, said in a memo. Therefore, the Office of Management and Budget authorized some Labor Department officials to release the price data.

Should such a situation arise again and the release of certain economic data, like the September employment figures, is authorized, BLS “would need a small staff from the program, publications and IT offices to handle the release,” the plan said.

Stephen Barr, a spokesman for the Labor Department, did not immediately respond to phone messages and e-mails requesting clarification on the release of the employment report.

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