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No federal jobs report: Big deal, or blip?

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The monthly federal jobs report — a much-watched financial indicator — was due out today, but will not be coming because of the government shutdown.

“This website is currently not being updated due to the suspension of Federal government services,” said a posting on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. “The last update to the site was Monday, September 30. During the shutdown period BLS will not collect data, issue reports, or respond to public inquiries. Updates to the site will start again when the Federal government resumes operations. Revised schedules will be issued as they become available.”

Tim Decker, president of ISI Financial Group in Lancaster, said the absence of the report is a great news event, but from a practical and investment standpoint, is “really a bump in the road and more of a nonevent than anything else” because the market looks for trends longer term.

“It takes months of data to identify a trend, and remember, often the numbers that do come out, they’re often readjusted,” Decker said. “Markets reflect the consensus of all public information in current prices, so what moves the market substantially either up or down is unexpected news and or events. Whatever the consensus is or was what the numbers would be, unless the numbers come out and are significantly above or below that, the markets do a pretty good job reflecting that themselves anyway.”

“My personal opinion about job report numbers are that they’re bogus and made up. However, the Fed is relying on the job reports to determine whether they should continue quantitative easing,” said Joe Wirbick, president of Lancaster financial services firm Sequinox. “I don’t believe that one month of missing the job report is going to hurt, but if they continue it could be detrimental to their ability to make decisions.”

And, Wirbick said, people could react to that possibility.

“I don’t think it would be warranted, but we could see a response,” he said, noting dips in the market earlier in the week because of the federal shutdown. “Any time people have a reason to be scared, there could be a response.”

The ADP national employment report, which covers only nonfarm private sector employment and is derived from ADP’s payroll data, was released Wednesday and said employment increased by 166,000 jobs from August to September. ADP’s August job gain report was revised down from 176,000 to 159,000.

“As in previous months, most of the job gains occurred in the service-providing sector,” said Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The job market appears to have softened in recent months. Fiscal austerity has begun to take a toll on job creation. The run-up in interest rates may also be doing some damage to jobs in the financial services industry. While job growth has slowed, there remains a general resilience in the market. Job creation continues to be consistent with a slowly declining unemployment rate.”

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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