Labor Dept. says it may delay October jobs report due to Hurricane Sandy

News from the Wall Street Journal that is sure to fuel conspiracy theories among those who long ago lost patience with the “Most Transparent Administration In History:”

The Labor Department said Monday that it has yet to make a decision on whether to delay Friday’s closely-watched October employment report due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy.

Federal government offices in Washington are closed Monday and may be shut again Tuesday due to the storm. It isn’t clear if the closure would cause a delay in processing the data.

“We will assess the situation when the weather emergency is over and notify the press and public of any changes at that time,” said Gary Steinberg, spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data arm of the department.

This would be an incredible stroke of good luck for Barack Obama, since the 7.8 percent unemployment rate in September was widely viewed as a statistical fluke by analysts.  October’s numbers would almost certainly have gone back up, perhaps all the way back to 8.1 percent.  New jobless claims have been fairly stagnant over the past four weeks, and job creation has actually been trending down over the past several months… making it likely that October would be about where September should have been, which is to say roughly the same as August.

But if the BLS numbers are delayed until after the election, the September blip would become the final word on Obama’s job creation – 7.8 percent unemployment is still pathetic, but Obama apologists have been eagerly touting it as evidence that Obamanomics is finally starting to kick into high gear.  Well, okay, second gear.

This will only heighten the distrust of those who suspect games have already been played with labor numbers over the past few weeks, although it’s not hard to see how massive blackouts from the monster storm could interfere with the collection of data for the jobs report.  That’s already a painstaking, difficult process that really isn’t finished until a month or two after the official numbers are released – hence the inevitable, and often highly significant, revisions over the course of subsequent reports.  And it certainly doesn’t help that Washington itself is one of the cities in the path of the storm.