WASHINGTON | After a 2 ½ -week delay, the government on Tuesday will issue the September employment report, providing a snapshot of the job market's health before the 16-day partial government shutdown.
The report will help answer some questions about the direction the economy was headed. The government was unable to issue most data during the shutdown.
Still, the jobs report is carrying less weight than usual. That's because the shutdown has likely slowed growth and hiring. And the September figures are certain to be revised two weeks later, when the government reports on October hiring.
Economists forecast that Tuesday's report will show employers added 180,000 jobs in September, according to FactSet. That would be up from August's gain of 169,000. The unemployment rate is expected to have stayed at 7.3 percent.
The job market has stumbled in recent months after starting the year with some promise. Employers added an average of just 155,000 jobs a month from May through August. For the first four months of the year, they had added an average of 205,000.
Even if there's a bump in September hiring, many economist are predicting a drop in October. That's because furloughs of federal workers and private government contractors may lower the payroll figures. But that could be a temporary decline and not reflect broader hiring patterns.
Many economists say they won't have a clear read on hiring and unemployment until the November jobs report is released, in early December.
And there's also the potential for another budget confrontation in just three months. That's because the government was only reopened until Jan. 15. But economists said that shouldn't drag too heavily on hiring in November and December.
"We've been dealing with these sorts of deadlines for quite a while now," said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. "It's not a new source of uncertainty in that sense."