Bloomberg reports that the Labor Department may delay the release of October’s unemployment report, which is scheduled to be published on the morning of November 2, citing the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
The report is a politically sensitive barometer of the strength of the economy, and a delay would deprive undecided voters of a potentially important piece of information as they ponder the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. September’s report, which showed unemployment suddenly declining to 7.8% despite mediocre job gains, was greeted with a great deal of skepticism. Bloomberg’s own survey of economists predicts a slight jump in October to 7.9%.
Hurricane Sandy might actually provide a short term stimulus effect, as the northeast purchases goods and services to repair storm damage. But that will not be felt for at least several more weeks, and would not offset the impact of corporate layoffs, which have reached a two year high. . Whether we get to see the October report or not, the economic outlook remains gloomy on election eve.