Lost furloughed federal worker paychecks could weigh on the US economy

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The impact also could show up in the official jobs numbers tracking the health of the labor market. That’s because the survey used to estimate the jobless rate was conducted this week.

But it’s not clear just how those furloughed workers will be counted.

Workers who were required to work this week would be classified as employed, according to a BLS statement, even if they aren’t getting paid. Others who are not working would be considered “unemployed, on temporary layoff.” Still others, who work less than 35 hours this week because of the shutdown, would be recorded as “part time for economic reasons.”

“Given the size and complexity of the nation’s job market, and the relatively small sample size of the household (employment) survey, it may not be possible to precisely quantify the impact of the shutdown,” according to the BLS.

Still, the impact could be significant. In December, when the economy added 312,000 jobs, the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent. If all 800,000 furloughed workers are counted as unemployed in January, that would add four-tenths of a percent to the number, according to CNBC calculations.

That could add yet another political element to the shutdown’s impact. Trump has frequently touted the country’s low unemployment rate.

“We have the best job numbers virtually that we’ve ever had,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday. “For African American, the best ever. … Hispanic, Asian the best ever. The best in 50 years in the overall number, and soon that’s going to be beaten.”

2019-01-11 11:00:00

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