How’s the U.S. econ­omy do­ing?

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Christo­pher Ru­gaber The As­so­ci­ated Press

The par­tial shut­down of the U.S. gov­ern­ment has be­gun to make it harder to as­sess the health of the econ­omy.

WASH­ING­TON >> The par­tial shut­down of the U.S. gov­ern­ment has be­gun to make it harder to as­sess the health of the econ­omy by de­lay­ing or dis­tort­ing key re­ports on growth, spend­ing and hir­ing.

Gov­ern­ment data on home con­struc­tion and re­tail sales, for ex­am­ple, won’t be re­leased next week be­cause staffers who com­pile those re­ports have been fur­loughed. The re­tail sales re­port pro­vides a snap­shot of con­sumer spend­ing, which fu­els more than two-thirds of the econ­omy. With Macy’s and Kohl’s hav­ing said Thurs­day that their hol­i­day sales were weaker than ex­pected, a broader gauge of re­tail spend­ing would have pro­vided im­por­tant clar­ity.

In ad­di­tion, the next re­port on the econ­omy’s over­all growth, set for Jan. 30, won’t be re­leased if the shut­down re­mains in ef­fect. Even if the gov­ern­ment has fully re­opened by then, fed­eral work­ers won’t likely have had enough time to pro­duce the sched­uled re­port on the na­tion’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

Not all agen­cies are closed. Congress ap­proved fund­ing last year for the La­bor De­part­ment, so the gov­ern­ment’s next monthly jobs re­port will be re­leased as sched­uled on Feb. 1. But it’s un­clear how long the de­part­ment will be able to is­sue jobs re­ports — the most closely watched barom­e­ter of the econ­omy — af­ter that.

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