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US Economic Reports on Jobs, Inflation Would Be Delayed in Shutdown

(Bloomberg) -- A range of US economic reports are set to be delayed in an impending shutdown of the federal government, which would deprive markets, businesses and policymakers of reference points for decisions made at home and around the world.

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Critical figures like the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report and a key inflation gauge from the Commerce Department wouldn’t come out on their scheduled release dates, based on agencies’ actions during previous shutdowns. When the government was closed in 2013, data like the employment report and others were delayed.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is part of the Labor Department and publishes the jobs report as well as data on consumer prices, said that in the event of a shutdown, it will “suspend data collection, processing and dissemination. Once funding is restored, BLS will resume normal operations.”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the White House referred requests for comment to the Office of Management and Budget, which is working with government agencies to finalize new contingency plans. The latest plan unveiled by the Commerce Department — which includes BEA and the Census Bureau — in 2021 expected most services and activities conducted by those two agencies to cease during a shutdown.

The US government is barreling toward a shutdown on Oct. 1 as far-right House Republicans prepare to block an extension of current funding. Given the ideological divide, a closure could last weeks or more, which could make the Federal Reserve’s decision trickier at its Oct. 31-Nov. 1 meeting.

Most of the reports due next month will reference September data, rounding out what’s expected to be a strong quarter for the US economy. Inflation has generally been easing and the labor market remains solid, supporting consumer spending and reinforcing calls that the world’s largest economy can dodge a recession.

Much of that depends on how the Fed proceeds. Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues have stressed that they’re dependent on incoming economic data to inform their decisions. The central bank is widely expected to hold interest rates steady when it meets next week, but November is still very much a toss-up.

The Fed is a self-funding organization that doesn’t depend on government appropriations and has continued working through past shutdowns. A spokesman for the central bank declined to comment.

Should the government shut down, the following reports might not be published during the month of October:

However, policymakers also look at a range of third-party data that would still be published, like gauges of manufacturing and services activity from the Institute of Supply Management, private payrolls from ADP Research Institute and existing-home sales from the National Association of Realtors.

Regional Fed banks, which are not staffed by federal employees, would also continue to operate and publish surveys on manufacturing and business conditions.

--With assistance from Erik Wasson and Craig Torres.

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