With a government shutdown looming, it is currently unclear whether the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue the October 4 unemployment report on time if its workers are furloughed. Mercatus Center senior research fellow Keith Hall, former commissioner at the BLS, says that delaying the report would be a mistake.
“The BLS’s monthly unemployment report plays a major role in shaping economic policy. While it is unclear how long a temporary shutdown would last if it happens, I believe it would be a mistake to withhold the data beyond the scheduled release date of October 4. The BLS has already gathered most all of the data required to issue the report. If there is a shutdown, ideally the BLS will get authorization for a small staff to complete the compilation of the data and issue the report as scheduled. A delay could cause unnecessary uncertainty in the financial markets. Holding onto the data for an extended period also poses a security risk due to the significance placed on the unemployment numbers.”