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U.S. jobs report, other economic data would be delayed by shutdown

A man waits in line to talk to recruiters while attending a job fair in New York, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A man waits in line to talk to recruiters while attending a job fair in New York, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will stop publishing much of its economic data next week if the government shuts down, including the closely watched monthly employment report, officials said on Friday.

Whole swaths of the U.S. federal government could shut down next week if Congress does not approve extensions to department budgets due to expire on Monday.

All non-essential federal employees would stop working, including those at the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is scheduled to release the monthly nonfarm payrolls report on October 4.

"All survey and other program operations will cease and the public website will not be updated," said Erica Groshen, the commissioner of the BLS, said in a memo published on the department's website.

The Commerce Department, which issues estimates on the pace of growth in the economy, also will stop releasing economic data, a spokesperson said.

The jobs report due on Friday would provide estimates for the nation's unemployment rate in September. It would also show how many workers were added to employer payrolls during the month.

The report sets the tone for financial markets worldwide. Policymakers and investors use it to gauge the health of the U.S. economy.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been racing to pass legislation to avert the shutdown, but time is running out. The Senate passed a emergency-funding measure on Friday that would keep the government running through November 15 and the House could vote on the bill over the weekend.

The BLS also publishes data on inflation and productivity. Should a shutdown occur, the next closely watched data that would be delayed would be a report on import prices, due on October 10.

The Commerce Department's next scheduled economic indicator is for construction spending during August. That report is due on Tuesday.

Not all U.S. economic data would be delayed by a government shutdown, however.

A separate memo from the Labor Department said the government's weekly jobless claims reports would not be affected.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, which also publishes economic data, would continue to issue data in a shutdown, a spokesperson at the Fed said. Also, the government would continue its borrowing and debt operations, the Treasury Department said.

(Reporting by Timothy Ahmann and Jason Lange; editing by G Crosse and David Gregorio)

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