WASHINGTON – The latest victims of the government’s partial shutdown: policy wonks, politicians and TV talking heads who are losing their monthly opportunity to dissect the jobs report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It happens the first Friday of the month at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Except today. The government’s partial shutdown means the September jobs report is being postponed.
Economists and journalists will have some withdrawal pains, suggests Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and a fixture on cable-TV gabfests after the jobs reports are released.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial and another regular television presence on the morning of the jobs reports, jokes that she won’t have to get up so early Friday. Yet she’ll feel the loss.
The jobs report is a flashlight into the dense forest of global economic information, Swonk says. We’ve turned the flashlight off.
Wall Street bases its buy-and-sell decisions on countless data – economic growth in the United States and abroad, corporate profits, manufacturing output and home sales. But the jobs report tends to occupy center stage. Job growth drives consumer spending, which fuels most of the U.S. economy.
Today’s report was expected to show that the economy added 180,000 jobs in September, slightly more than the modest 169,000 in August. The unemployment rate was expected to remain at a still-high 7.3 percent.
Still, important as the jobs report is, some find its coverage on cable TV to be overkill. Barry Ritholtz, chief investment officer at Ritholtz Wealth Management, calls it the single most overanalyzed, overwrought, overemphasized data point in finance.
Ritholtz notes that each month’s job figure is later revised twice, sometimes sharply.