11 a.m., Oct. 31, 2012 — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed to me on Oct. 31 that it will release the monthly jobs report on schedule this Friday. That takes the wind out of the sails of conspiracy theorists, who speculated that the administration might use Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to delay a bad jobs number that would hurt President Barack Obama’s chances of reelection. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, channeling his inner Jack Welch, had earlier tweeted: “Labor Dept says may release latest Unemployment figures until after election. Par for course. Why release something might hurt Obama elect?”
I called the BLS a little before 10 a.m. on Wednesday to find out whether the number would or would not be delayed because of Sandy. The receptionist said all calls were being referred to a spokesman at the U.S. Labor Dept., the BLS’s parent agency. When I got an answering machine at that number, I went back to Gary Steinberg, a spokesman for BLS, who—after checking with his boss for several minutes—came on the line and said: “The employment situation will be released, as scheduled, on Friday.”
The report on the October employment situation could have a huge impact on an extremely tight election because the economy’s continued weakness—and what to do about it—has been the most important issue in the campaign.
Now that the jobs report is definitely coming out, conspiracy theorists will have to pivot to attacking the numbers themselves, as former General Electric (GE) Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch did a month ago.