Will Obama Peek at Jobs Report Before DNC Speech?

Sep 5, 2012 3:48pm

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When President Obama delivers the biggest speech of his re-election campaign, he may know something the rest of us don’t: America’s latest unemployment rate.

Obama will address national TV audiences Thursday night as he accepts his party’s re-nomination for the presidency, capping off this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.  As Mitt Romney did last week at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., Obama is expected to outline his message to voters for the final months of the 2012 campaign.

The next morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a new national unemployment rate, which currently sits at 8.3 percent.

When he takes the stage, Obama may very well know that figure. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sends its unemployment figures to the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Thursday afternoon, the day before releasing them publicly at 8:30 a.m.  Eastern on the first Friday of every month, according to a BLS spokesman.

BLS sends the data to the White House council via secure data transfer “sometime in the afternoon, but it can range,” BLS spokesman Gary Steinberger said. “It’s not like we have a solid time and that’s it.”

BLS sends the data as soon as it finishes compiling its written release of figures from last month’s employment survey, and the transfer typically does not happen before noon. “We’re talking about computer systems and human writing,” Steinberger said of the precise timing.

President Obama is scheduled to speak after 10 p.m. on Thursday at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, leaving him ample time to view the numbers if he so chooses–barring any delays from BLS, given that the timing differs each month.

The question, then, is whether Obama will take a look.

The White House would not discuss the precise timing of Obama’s economic briefing, in keeping with its general practice. the Council of Economic Advisers did not respond to a request for comment. An email to Obama’s campaign was not immediately returned.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt did not answer directly when asked by Yahoo! News White House reporter Olivier Knox, at an ABC/Yahoo! forum in Charlotte on Tuesday, whether Obama’s campaign will have seen the new job numbers when Obama takes the stage.

“I think they’re going to look at the past four years, the fact that the economy was in a freefall when the president came into office, that we’d lost more than 3 million jobs in the final six months of the prior administration,” LaBolt said.

New job numbers could swallow up some of the attention Obama’s convention speech will receive. In past months, lukewarm employment data has become a major national news story, dominating discussion on cable airwaves for days. The economy has endured three consecutive months of rising or stagnant unemployment rates: since falling from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent in April, the rate rose to 8.2 percent in May and another .1 percent in June.

Devin Dwyer contributed to this post.

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