No unemployment report for September

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The U.S. Department of Labor is not issuing jobless numbers because of the government shutdown.

The closely watched numbers will not be issued because only three employees are working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Department spokesman Stephen Barr told the Associated Press.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics website has a message telling visitors that the last update to the site was on Sept. 30.

“During the shutdown period BLS will not collect data, issue reports or respond to public inquiries. Updates to the site will start again when the federal government resumes operations. Revised schedules will be issued as they become available,” the website said.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose just 1,000 last week, to a seasonally adjusted 308,000, hovering near six-year lows, the AP reported. Companies are still cutting very few jobs. However, the decline in layoffs has not been accompanied by a pickup in hiring.

The less volatile four-week average for unemployment applications fell to 305,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the lowest since May 2007, seven months before the recession began.

Weekly applications could increase next week because of the government shutdown. Defense contractors and other companies that do business with the government may temporarily lay off workers. Federal workers who are temporarily laid off may also file for benefits, although their numbers are reported separately and published a week later than the other applications.

Payroll company ADP told the AP Wednesday that private employers added just 159,000 jobs in August and 161,000 in July. Both were lower than previous estimates.

The figures are taking on greater importance because they may be the only measure of the September job market for some time.

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