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Despite Sandy, October unemployment report to be released Friday

WASHINGTON -- The October unemployment report will be released as scheduled on Friday, despite the federal government’s closure for two days this week because of Hurricane Sandy, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

As the storm shut down Washington on Monday, there was some concern that the monthly reading on the unemployment rate and job growth -- formally known as the Employment Situation Report -- would be delayed.

The report is the government’s last major economic release before Tuesday’s presidential election.

But after expressing hope on Monday that the Bureau of Labor Statistics would still be able to produce the report on Friday, Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio confirmed Wednesday that there would be no delay.

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“The Employment Situation will be released at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, as scheduled,” he said.

Talk of a delay in October’s unemployment report caused some to charge that the Obama administration wanted to withhold negative information about the economy to boost the president’s reelection prospects.

“Why release something might hurt Obama elect,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted Monday.

The unexpected sharp drop in September’s unemployment rate -- to 7.8% from 8.1% -- fueled conspiracy theories about manipulation by the White House. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said there was no manipulation.

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October’s jobs report is projected to be neither overly negative for the White House nor overly positive. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg is that the economy added 125,000 jobs in October -- compared with 114,000 the previous month -- and the unemployment rate will increase slightly to 7.9%.

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