How’s the U.S. economy doing?
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.