With federal offices in Washington, D.C., closed due to the threat of Hurricane Sandy, Labor Department officials have cautioned that they are not certain they will be able to release the October employment report on Friday as scheduled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says it's "working hard to ensure the timely release of the figures," the last major word on the unemployment rate ahead of next week's election, although it might be difficult for economists and analysts to finish their work on time. The department is hoping that Friday will be "business as usual," although it will be hard to be totally sure until the weather emergency is over. What happens if the report isn't ready until after the election? Here, three theories:
1. Delaying the data would make Obama look bad
Given that the September figures were "a big outlier" that painted an overly optimistic employment picture, even Obama's advisers are warning that the coming numbers won't be too hot, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. The storm will certainly "impede business" in Washington, but the surveys are done, so it shouldn't be too hard for the Labor Department to put them out on time. The Census Bureau might also hold off on releasing economic data on construction spending and manufacturing. The delaying of bad news would seem "rather convenient" for Obama, so "the absence of this data might end up looking worse than the data itself."
2. The biggest impact would be on the blood pressure of Republicans
Friday's jobs report "is the last economic benchmark of the Obama presidency" before voters go to the polls next Tuesday, says Byron Tau at Politico. Last month's jobs numbers were so unexpectedly good that some, including former GE CEO Jack Welch, complained they had been cooked to make Obama look good, and they're convinced the October numbers will set the record straight. So if the Labor Department does wind up delaying this report, it will "likely prompt howls of protests from Republicans."
3. Conspiracy theorists would have a field day
Delaying the numbers would spark "another outbreak of BLS Trutherism," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, but for no good reason. The paranoid fuss Obama's critics are making over this is "absurd." And let's be honest: Even if they're released on time, the numbers "will have little to no impact on the election's outcome." These monthly progress reports on the jobs front are always over-hyped.