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Despite hurricane, jobs report still scheduled for Friday release

By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times –

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department said it hopes to release October’s unemployment report on Friday as scheduled, despite the closure of the federal government on Monday, and possibly additional days this week, because of Hurricane Sandy.

“The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, Nov. 2,” said Department of Labor spokesman Carl Fillichio. “It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation report.”

The report on October’s unemployment rate and the number of new jobs added that month is the last major economic report before next week’s presidential election. And a delay in the report until after the election would fuel conspiracy theories that the Obama administration was trying to withhold negative information.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday on Twitter that a delay would be “par for the course” for the administration.

“Why release something might hurt Obama elect?” Grassley wrote.

The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg is for 125,000 new jobs created in October — up from 114,000 the previous month — and for the unemployment rate to tick up to 7.9 percent.

The September jobs report, released Oct. 5, showed the unemployment rate surprisingly dropped to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent the previous month, the lowest level since Obama took office. Former General Electric Chief Executive Jack Welch accused the Obama administration of cooking the numbers in response to the president’s poor performance in the debate earlier in the week.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said there was no manipulation. And Keith Hall, who served as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2008 to 2012, said it would be impossible to manipulate the numbers without being detected.

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