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Economic data could go dark

By Mark Hamrick ·
Monday, September 30, 2013
Posted: 11 am ET

How does the fight over Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, risk closing a window on the economy?

Stock prices are headed lower to begin the week, with release of the monthly jobs report scheduled for Friday. But if the federal government does shut down and stays closed for days, the jobs report won't be released on time by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fallout from a shutdown

The sell-off on Wall Street reflects the inability so far of Congress and the president to forge an agreement to pay for the government. It also raises the risk that common ground might not be found to raise the debt limit in mid-October. If there's no funding bill approved Monday, nonessential agencies will be closed Tuesday, when the federal fiscal year begins. It would be the first such shutdown in 17 years.

The word in Washington is that the weekly unemployment claims report from the Labor Department will come out on time, at 8:30 a.m. eastern time Thursday, even with a shutdown. However, if the government is closed Thursday and Friday, or even one of those days, release of the monthly unemployment report won't happen this week. If the government remains closed beyond that, it isn't clear when the report would be released.

Coming soon (probably): 404s

At the Census Bureau's Bureau of Economic Analysis, a spokeswoman says not only will data releases grind to a halt, but the website containing data will go dark.

The longer a potential shutdown continues, the greater the damage to the economy. Because the key agencies crunching economic data are affected, getting a grasp of the true financial impact on the economy will become more challenging.

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