Skip to comments.Labor Depít: On second thought, looks like we might have that jobs report ready on Friday after all
Posted on 10/30/2012 6:25:10 PM PDT by markomalley
Sandy did hit D.C. but only with a glancing blow, so the prospect of BLS statisticians being stranded at home in the suburbs has faded along with the storm. Even if they were getting hammered, though, if you worked for BLS, wouldnt you move heaven and earth to make sure this report came out according to its regular schedule? If they delayed what turned out to be a bad report and Obama won the election in the interim, theyd have half the country suspicious of their motives unto eternity. As would also be the case, needless to say, if the incumbent were a Republican and staring down the barrel of a jobless rate stuck near eight percent.
Crisis (probably) averted:
A Labor Department official tells CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss there should be no delay in the release of the monthly employment report. Its expected to be released this Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET
There had been some speculation the report would be delayed as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Preparation for the jobs report typically ramps up in the week of the release. The federal government was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the storm.
On Monday the Labor Department had issued a statement saying, It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation report.
ABC and Bloomberg were hearing the same thing earlier this afternoon, with former Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee telling the latter that he expected BLS would crunch the numbers at their satellite offices outside D.C. if need be rather than delay the report. Bloomberg makes a fair point in arguing separately that its silly for people to put so much stock in a measurement that tells us so little about whats really going on in the economy (a point HA readers understand only too well), but there are lots of silly things that affect peoples votes and most of them are far sillier than this. Rest assured, The One was careful to affect his most serious serious face while being briefed on Sandy for the benefit of the White House photographer snapping pictures in the Situation Room. Looking presidential in a crisis can tip votes, and thats how you look presidential. Little late in the game now to be grumbling about the merits of the BLS numbers.
Mickey Kaus makes a fair point too. If this was all a matter of the White House and the BLS playing with the numbers to help O out, theres obviously something more potent they could (but wont) do than simply shelving the final jobs report:
Im assuming the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the October employment statistics on schedule. The paranoia that would accompany a delay (this close to the election) would be too destructive, even if the delay was justifiable. But if the Obama administration were really playing politics with the numbers in the way the paranoids fear, do you think it would merely delay the release of the numbers? Not cunning enough!
The obvious Machiavellian four-step would be 1) delay the release of the numbers 2) wait for the Romney camp to get caught up in the paranoia and publicly demand that the administration release the numbers 3) at the moment of maximum dramatic tension, release the numbers! 4) Have the numbers be unexpectedly good. There is precedent for this maneuver.
Exit question: How far would the current rate of 7.8 percent have to move on Friday to really impact the election? My sense of low-information voters is that theyre almost entirely tuned out to the actual numbers, and may even be tuned out to good/bad trends in the numbers unless the trend is sharp enough to lend an air of celebration or dread, as the case may be, to news stories about it. Thats what theyre reacting to I think the tone of the coverage as a portent of how the economy more broadly is doing, not the actual facts being reported about the data. My question is, what sort of movement in Fridays would cause the media to celebrate/despair? A one-tenth percent drop or increase? Two-tenths? And yes, its perfectly fine to wonder if the bar for grim reports has risen now that were on the eve of an election.
The survey is done every month during the week in which the 12th of the month falls. That’s when the numbers are collected, so the actual reporting period was three weeks ago. The rest of the time is spent in compiling and adjusting for seasonal and other factors.
No state can blame Sandy for reporting late.
(Seriously, thanks, good point!)
It is now:
Something someone in private industry would do in an afternoon with a spreadsheet.
It's what? Maybe a dozen data points from each of all 57 states*, plus a calender date, and maybe half a dozen "other factors"
* 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Samoa, Northern Marianas, Gitmo...
Oh I know, but as of Jan 22 it will reported.
The press also discover the homeless and hungry they have “lost” for 4 years....
It’s a little bit more complicated than that. There are actually two labor surveys done each month - the corporate survey that the BLS does, and the household survey done by the private payroll processor ADP. So BLS is using data from two different surveys - the employee side (ADP’s) and the employer side (their’s). ADP surveys about 60,000 households, and BLS surveys around 140,000 companies and government agencies.
The ADP survey comes out a day or two earlier than the BLS survey, but the BLS uses the ADP numbers to determine the unemployment rate, since only the workers (employed or not) can say whether they are employed or not, and if not, whether they are looking for work or not (i.e, in the labor force or not).
Regardless, ADP does their survey during the week that has the 12th of the month in it, so the numbers are in. They just need to be crunched. Which, I most certainly agree with you, a private company could do quicker and likely more accurately.
BTW - I want to visit that Gitmo state. Supposed to be some nice beaches there...
They called us "FUNemployed"!
They seriously thought their readers would buy it!