As this New York Times article points out, the U.S. jobs report for September is one immediate casualty of the government shutdown. The September report is merely delayed, however; the data has been collected and will be crunched and released eventually. More problematically for the long term, data is not being collected during the shutdown. If the shutdown lasts long enough, there may never be unemployment data for October, putting a permanent kink into the annual data for 2013 and into long-term adjustments.
A Times op-ed, The ShutDown’s Data Blackout (by a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics), looks at these effects and asks whether collection of government data should really be considered “nonessential”. It’s good to see the question being asked in a major news outlet. Data is not a frill. Perhaps the single most fundamental thing that governments do is make decisions. They need information to base those decisions on. That’s what it’s all about.
Sites I regularly use as a data librarian that are down:
- Census.gov and associated sites, including American Factfinder and Dataferret
- Bureau of Economic Analysis
- National Center for Education Statistics
Things that are available but not being updated:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- CDC/National Center for Health Statistics and other major health information sites including PubMed