The Labor Department sought on Monday to quell worries that Hurricane Sandy, which has closed federal offices as it bears down on the East Coast, could delay the scheduled release of its monthly employment numbers on Friday.
“The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, Nov. 2,” Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio said in a statement. “It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation report.”
All federal offices in the Washington, D.C. area were closed on Monday due to the severe weather. The storm was expected to bring strong winds with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, power outages, and downed trees, as well as flooding to the D.C. metropolitan area. A concern is that the top-secret compilation of the jobs report, conducted in closed-door meetings at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is within the Labor Department, could be delayed if the economists who put it together couldn’t commute in.
Although the monthly jobs numbers are always closed watched, Friday’s will be particularly so, coming just days before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect nonfarm payrolls to grow by 124,000 and the unemployment rate to edge up to 7.9 percent after falling to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August.
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