Watch these jobs numbers carefully

The U.S. Labor Department is going to release some jobs numbers Tuesday, a bit later than planned.

Here’s my thinking on what we might see and what might be the reaction. The economy likely will not have added as many jobs as it has in recent months and the White House spin machine is going to kick into high gear to blame the slowdown on congressional Republicans.

The Labor Department was scheduled to send out those jobs numbers — along with the latest unemployment rate — on Oct. 4. It got delayed because part of the federal government had shut down three days earlier. That must have included those “non-essential” Labor Department analysts who crunch those numbers and release them to the public.

And why did the government shut down? It was largely because congressional Republicans kept insisting on a defunding of the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t happen. The government remained partially shuttered until just this past week, when the Senate leadership from both parties cobbled a plan together to reopen the government and lift the nation’s debt ceiling.

The impact of the shutdown, however, reportedly did have an adverse impact on the economy. Employers suspended their hiring; businesses stopped their buying, as did consumers; manufacturers slowed their output.

Some estimates put the net loss to the economy at something around $24 billion — although I haven’t yet heard anyone translate how the bean counters compute that dollar loss.

So, the latest jobs report might not be as rosy as recent reports. Republicans might try to blame it all on President Obama’s “failed economic policy,” even though the nation has added something like 8 million jobs — mostly in the private sector — during the past four years.

Democrats, meanwhile, will be able to play to citizens’ fresh memories about the government shutdown. It hurt the economy and the Labor Department numbers we get Tuesday might give Democrats more ammo to fire at their adversaries across the aisle.

Leave a Reply