For weeks, the White House had been bracing for a bad report on hiring. Like pregame analysts ahead of a lopsided sports match, White House economists and aides lowered expectations and blamed October’s partial government shutdown for the inevitable bad news to come.
Then Friday’s numbers materialized and stunned the prognosticators. Employers appeared to have ignored the shutdown and hired away to the tune of 204,000 jobs in October.
The shutdown, it seemed, had had no effect.
Not so fast. In the height of irony, the 16 days of federal worker furloughs and government disruptions may have helped, not hurt, the improved jobs picture.
Typically, jobs numbers are announced on the first Friday of the month. Because of the shutdown, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the release of the jobs numbers by one week to allow more time to collect payroll and household data. That extra time resulted in an above average response rate for payroll data.