This breaking, astonishing news comes via the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. Labor Department on Monday said it hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to delay Friday’s October jobs report, the final reading on the labor market before next week’s federal elections. A Labor official said the agency will assess the schedule for all its data releases this week when the “weather emergency” is over. Labor is scheduled to release the employment report on Friday, third quarter employment costs on Wednesday and weekly jobless claims on Thursday. The U.S. Census Bureau also said it hasn’t made a decision on whether to delay economic reports it plans to release this week, including construction spending on Thursday and factory orders on Friday.
Ah yes, the "weather emergency." Look, the majority of the Townhall editorial team will be affected by this storm. We're bracing for power outages and other major disruptions, so the seriousness of the situation is not lost on us. Indeed, the Romney campaign just announced that they are postponing or canceling two rallies tonight, and all campaign events tomorrow, "out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy." I can understand the decision to avoid the optics of stumping for election while millions of citizens are in peril, but I'm blown away that the Department of Labor is considering using the severe weather as a handy excuse to push off its final pre-election unemployment report until after November 6th. The Journal's write up suggests that this move would be a judgment call rather than a necessity. Unless and until overwhelming evidence is produced that this course of action is absolutely unavoidable, Labor's potential shift should be viewed as an unacceptable, abjectly political maneuver. It doesn't take a conspiratorial mind to imagine that the executive branch may have a political interest in pushing back the release of data that may prove....unhelpful to their boss:
George Stephanopoulos asked former Obama administration economist Austan Goolsbee about the political impact of the jobs report coming up this Friday, just four days before most voters cast their ballots. Goolsbee notes that only “unbelievable outliers … crack through the shell” of the electorate’s consciousness for a single-month’s report. Goolsbee then admits that last month’s jobs report was “artificially too optimistic” — an “unbelievable outlier,” in other words. So why admit that now? Well, that “unbelievable outlier” is likely to get corrected in this month’s household survey, and that will drive the jobless rate up.
In short, Team Obama is already circling the wagons to lower expectations for what could be a damaging jobs report -- a fate they've feared for some time. Wouldn't it be "convenient" if the wind and heavy rains washed this information away for a few days? Parting quotation: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste."