Does the lapse of appropriation for some federal agencies impact BLS data or release dates?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has received a number of questions about the impact of the current lapse of appropriation for some federal agencies on our data and release dates.

The Department of Labor, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is funded through September 30, 2019. BLS is operating as usual and expects to follow its announced release schedule. The lapse of appropriation may affect data in some BLS releases, however.

Employment Situation

The January 2019 Employment Situation will be published as scheduled on February 1, 2019, at 8:30 a.m.

Current Employment Statistics (Payroll survey):

  • The payroll survey is collected by BLS, and collection of the data is not affected by the lapse of appropriation.

  • Reference period: the pay period that includes the 12th of the month.

  • Federal government employees who are working, but who will not be paid until funding is available, are included in employment counts.

  • Furloughed federal employees who were not working during the reference period, but who will be paid once funding is available, are also included in employment counts.

    • On Wednesday January 16, 2019, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 was signed into law. The law requires employees of the federal government who are furloughed or required to work during the lapse in appropriations beginning on December 22, 2018, to be compensated for the period of the lapse. Because these employees will receive pay for the reference period, they will be counted as employed.

  • Beyond federal government employees, any worker who did not work or receive pay for the entire pay period will not be included in the employment counts.

  • Average weekly hours for the private sector employees may be impacted if employees’ work schedules are changed as a result of the lapse of appropriation.

    • Hours and earnings estimates are not available for the government sector.

Current Population Survey (Household survey):

  • The U.S. Census Bureau collects data for the household survey for BLS. This data collection activity is mostly funded by BLS and, at this time, is not affected by the lapse of appropriation. Therefore, data for January 2019 will be collected as scheduled. However, many Census Bureau staff members have been furloughed. As a result, CPS public-use microdata files will not be posted on the Census Bureau website until furloughed employees have returned to work.

  • Reference period: the calendar week that includes the 12th of the month (January 6–12).

  • Federal government employees who are working, but who will not be paid until funding is available, should be classified as employed.

  • Furloughed federal employees who are not working for the entire reference week should be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. (People on temporary layoff need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.)

  • Similar to federal employees, any other workers who are not working for the entire reference week because of the lapse of appropriation should be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. (People on temporary layoff need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.)

  • People who worked at any point during the reference week, who usually work full time but have had their workweek drop below 35 hours because of a lapse of appropriation, should be classified as employed part time for economic reasons because of slack work/business conditions.

Productivity and Costs

BLS plans to issue the Productivity and Costs 4th Quarter 2018 news release as scheduled on February 6, 2019.

If Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data are unavailable, the BLS productivity release will contain fewer published measures than usual.

Consumer Price Index

BLS will issue the January 2019 news release as scheduled on February 13, 2019, at 8:30 am.

The U.S. Census Bureau collects the CPI Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS) data for BLS. (TPOPS is used to collect information about where consumers purchase goods and services.) This data collection activity is funded by BLS and, at this time, is not significantly affected by the lapse of appropriation.

Import and Export Price Indexes

BLS will issue the U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, December 2018, news release as scheduled on January 16, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. Data used in these indexes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were posted prior to the lapse of appropriation.

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, January 2019, news release will be published as scheduled on February 15, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. If data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are not available in the first week of February, publication of some export price indexes may be suppressed.

Producer Price Index

BLS will issue the January 2019 Producer Price Index (PPI) news release as scheduled on February 14, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.

The PPI uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and Agricultural Marketing Service. The former is currently closed due to the lapse of appropriation; the latter is currently operating. Similarly, the PPI uses data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which also is currently closed. BLS expects that data from other sources will permit the PPI to publish fully if these data providers continue to be closed in February and beyond. The accuracy and reliability of the affected PPI indexes will not significantly diminish.

American Time Use Survey

The Census Bureau collects the American Time Use Survey data for BLS. This data collection activity is funded by BLS and, at this time, is not significantly affected by the lapse of appropriation.

Consumer Expenditure Survey

The Census Bureau collects the Consumer Expenditure Survey data for BLS. This data collection activity is funded by BLS and, at this time, is not significantly affected by the lapse of appropriation.

This page will be updated as new information becomes available. BLS will notify data users regarding any other data impacts or delayed releases.

Last Modified Date: January 18, 2019