With No Government Data, Economists Guess at the Health of the Economy

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It’s the first Friday of the month, the day the Bureau of Labor Statistics usually releases the latest employment statistics. But with the government shutdown, there are no numbers, and that’s causing consternation among economists.

Robert DiClemente, chief US economist at Citigroup will rely on some smaller, private surveys, to form his analysis of where the economy is going. He compares this to coaching a baseball game with only subs.

“We’re hoping the guys who can fill in are gonna help us really score some points. But that’s to be seen,” DiClemente said.

If Congress and the President agree to fund the government soon, this will be no more than a one-month hiccup, and the September jobs report will simply come out a little late. But if the shutdown drags on to mid-October, that could spell trouble: furloughed survey-takers won’t collect new information from thousands of Americans.

“We might not ever have an October jobs report,” said economist Barbara Byrne Denham of the firm Eastern Consolidated.

Not knowing could really rattle Wall Street.