Labor Department May Delay Jobs Report Until After Election Because of Sandy


The prevailing non-weather related question about Hurricane Sandy is How will the storm impact next week’s election?

Well, this is how.

WSJ:  The Labor Department said Monday that it has yet to make a decision on whether to delay Friday’s closely-watched October employment report due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy.

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,” said Gary Steinberg, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data arm of the department.

MEDIAITE:  The Labor Department said in an official statement that they will reassess their schedule for employment data releases once the “weather emergency” has passed.

Last month, the United States’ unemployment rate dropped by three tenths of a point to 7.8 percent – the lowest the unemployment rate has been since President Barack Obama took office in January, 2009

Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Two things.

1) I respect the fact that federal government offices in Washington are closed ahead of the looming storm.  The average federal government employee may live in a number of communities in the path of the storm.  Giving them time off to prepare is both reasonable and responsible.  That said, we’ve now been talking about this storm for more than a week.  If the powers-that-be failed to step up their efforts before Monday morning, that whole reasonable and responsible characterization may be a bit unwarranted – at least as they relate to said government agency actually doing its job.

2) If the reports are delayed, will we get them Monday?  Will a weekend make up for lost time?  Or… will we have to wait until after the election to find out the trajectory of unemployment?

From where I sit, unless Long Island washes away with the storm swell, the Labor Department better do everything in its power to get these numbers out before election day.  The president spent weeks on the campaign trail selling the whole “things are getting better” nonsense; and the downturn in the unemployment rate was the central argument to his sales pitch.  The fact that most believe these statistics will prove that downturn to be nothing more than a statistical anomaly or fabrication (see Jack Welch) would make a delay look a bit “convenient” given the political contest that hangs in the balance.

And when Lefties inevitably start accusing Republicans of manufacturing a story with this one should the numbers not come out, just point them in the direction of the video.  Just this Sunday, the president’s former chief economist Austan Goolsbee was already preparing the electorate for a correction.

NRO’s Eliana Johnson picked up on an interesting moment during yesterday’s This Week on ABC.  George Stephanopoulos asked former Obama administration economist Austan Goolsbee about the political impact of the jobs report coming up this Friday, just four days before most voters cast their ballots.  Goolsbee notes that only “unbelievable outliers … crack through the shell” of the electorate’s consciousness for a single-month’s report.  Goolsbee then admits that last month’s jobs report was “artificially too optimistic” — an “unbelievable outlier,” in other words.

So why admit that now?  Well, that “unbelievable outlier” is likely to get corrected in this month’s household survey, and that will drive the jobless rate up.  Goolsbee argues, in other words, that a jump in the jobless rate won’t impact voter psyche because voters already know the economy is improving regardless of these “unbelievable outliers”

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What’s the reality here?  Are jobs numbers really going to impact this election?  Short answer?

No, Yes, and Maybe.

No: The average American voter has probably already made up his/her mind on this election and the state of the economy.  If you’re unemployed or your loved on is unemployed, you don’t need a jobs report to tell you things are pretty terrible.

Yes: A delay in the release of these numbers could prove to be a political football too enticing for the Romney camp to resist.  If they pounce on the story too soon and Sandy packs a punch, the whole thing could backfire on Romney and turn undecideds to the president.  They’d be wise to let the media handle this one; or ignore it as the case may be.

Maybe: If you’re like me, you’ve grown increasingly cynical about government and even more so about government under this administration.  So, if you’re like me, you’re probably going to see any delay as a convenient attempt to hide the bleak reality until after the election.  If the numbers come out and show a return to +8% unemployment, I think it could have a marginal impact among the small group that still claims to be undecided.  By that, I do not mean it will be a deal breaker; but I do mean it could be the evidence they’ve been looking for to rebut lefty/MSM arguments that “things are getting better.”

No, yes, and maybe…

Either way, I think we all know how this plays out.  The numbers get delayed and the MSM fails to report on it choosing instead to offer endless coverage of hurricane cleanup; or the numbers get released and the MSM fails to report on it choosing instead to offer endless coverage of hurricane cleanup.

“Never let a crisis go to waste.”

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