Flood of US economic data set to wash up on Wall Street

Friday 18 October 2013 19.10
Labor Department to release its delayed employment report for September next Tuesday
Labor Department to release its delayed employment report for September next Tuesday

A wave of US economic data is set to hit financial markets starting next week after a last-minute budget deal re-opened the federal government yesteday.

The Labor Department said it would release its employment report for September next Tuesday as it provided a fresh schedule for some data that had been delayed by the 16-day partial government shutdown.

The report originally was scheduled for release on October 4.

The payrolls tally, which includes the nation's unemployment rate, regularly sets the tone for global financial markets keen for a reading on the health of the world's largest economy.

Among other data the department rescheduled was the consumer price index for September, which will now be released on October 30, and the producer price index for September, now due on October 29.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, which compiles the gross domestic product and retail sales reports, among others, will publish a revised data calendar as soon as possible, a spokeswoman said.

The shutdown delayed the release of about a dozen economic reports. Six other reports covering the month of September that had been scheduled for release over the next couple of weeks will probably be delayed as well.

October's employment report, previously due for release on November 1, was pushed back to the following week, the Labor Department said.

While delays in publishing the data likely inconvenienced financial market players, there is a silver lining, especially for retail sales and non-farm payrolls data for which respondents do not always complete the government surveys on time.

An economist said that the delayed releases may even be of better quality, noting that delays in releasing the retail sales report during a government shutdown in 1995 and 1996 had allowed for the inclusion of late responses from retailers.

Concerns are already being raised that the shutdown may compromise the quality of consumer inflation data and the nation's unemployment rate for October.

The inflation report is based on prices collected through the month and relies on visits to shops and supermarkets. But the BLS will not have prices for at least the first half of the month given the shutdown.

Even if field visits resumed yesterday, they would still not have a sufficient sample to compile a comprehensive report.

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland warned that the shutdown could have an impact on the accuracy of the monthly consumer price index estimates until next May.

Other economists said the October inflation report could be scrapped altogether, although the Labor Department said it planned to release the data next month.

There is also a cloud over October's unemployment rate. The household survey from which the jobless rate is derived was supposed to have been carried out last week, when the government was still shut.

Unlike the payrolls data, which is based on a survey of employers, staff from the Census Bureau make calls to households to come up with the data to construct the unemployment rate.