Shutdown meant no U.S. jobs report, could delay Minnesota's too

  • Article by: ADAM BELZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 4, 2013 - 8:54 PM

The state’s monthly report may be lost if federal data aren’t gathered and distributed.

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The federal government shutdown meant no national unemployment data for September. But a continuing furlough could affect Minnesota's data and even next month's national figures. File photo of job fair last month in Oregon.

Photo: Natalie Behring, Bloomberg

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One casualty of the government shutdown was Friday’s release of the national jobs report for September, and there’s a good chance the Minnesota report slated for release later this month also will be delayed.

“Unless this shutdown resolves fairly quickly, I’m going to start to expect that we’re going to have to delay ours as well,” said Steve Hine, a labor market economist for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Minnesota’s monthly jobs data, which typically is released on the third Thursday of each month, comes ultimately from federal data given to states the week after the national jobs report is released on the first Friday of each month.

But the shutdown sent workers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics home the week they usually release the report, which is formally called the Employment Situation Summary and is closely watched by investors and policymakers. Until the Labor Department puts out that report and starts feeding data to the states, Minnesota’s labor market economists have nothing to work with.

“If we don’t start to get that in the first couple of days of next week, we’re not likely to be able to put everything together in time for a release,” Hine said. “It’s already a fairly tight schedule.”

The timing of the shutdown couldn’t have been worse for the Department of Labor, Hine said. Federal staffers typically would have been working furiously this past week to prepare and release the data. Instead they were furloughed and will likely have to catch up on their own work before they send data to the states, Hine said.

If the shutdown persists, the October employment figures to be released in early November are also at risk. Census workers who collect data in the middle of the month are not on the job and won’t be until Congress and the White House resolve their differences and pass a budget. If they don’t do so before the middle of the month, the Census workers won’t collect any jobs data.

“In that case, we simply may not have any data to release for October’s numbers,” Hine said. “The longer it goes the worse it’s going to get.”

Minnesota’s most recent jobs report, for August, was a positive one. The state added 12,200 jobs and regained prerecession levels of total employment.

Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz

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