US government shutdown affects flow of key economic reports

11 October 2013 15:42  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The partial shutdown of the US government is beginning to affect private sector companies and interest groups that rely on a range of federal economic and other data reports that have been suspended, sources said on Friday.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) noted that “the US government is the primary data source for many, including academics, analysts and trade associations” and that the lack of those data sets is being felt.

“NAHB relies on data provided by the government to conduct studies on the local economic impact of home building, to update forecasts and provide timely analysis” of housing markets, said Joshua Miller, a housing policy analyst at the association.

Those reports and analyses are in turn used by home builders in guiding decisions about market moves, future plans and investments, for example.

Miller noted that the shutdown - which involves about 38% of 2.1m federal government workers - has already forced delay of such key data sets as construction spending, labour statistics and producer prices.

The closely watched Producer Price Index (PPI) issued monthly by the Department of Labor (DOL) was scheduled for release early on Friday, but that data set is not available.

The Labor Department also failed to issue its monthly report on jobs creation and unemployment. That jobs report for September was due on Friday last week, 4 October.

Unless the partial government shutdown is resolved soon, Miller noted that other key data reports will be delayed as well, including the consumer price index (CPI), scheduled for 16 October, the housing starts report, due 17 October, and the latest estimate of US third quarter GDP, due at month end.

In the energy sector, crucial reports issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are past due, noted energy consultancy Genscape.

Genscape marketing specialist Molly Hislop said that missing reports by those agencies and others are “vital to the proper functioning of commodity and energy markets”.

Among the delayed energy sector reports are those from NRC on the status of US nuclear power plants, the EIA report on oil storage and the USDA forecast for the nation’s corn crop.

As a result of a meeting Thursday at the White House between President Barack Obama and top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, there are renewed hopes that the two-week-old shutdown soon may be resolved.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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