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Comment: Whether the strike of workers at GM will affect the employment data depends on the length of the strike

The large strike of 46,000 UAW members as of 11:59 PM on Sunday, September 15 will not affect the employment data for September when the Employment Situation is released on Friday, October 4 at 8:30 ET. The strike began after the close of the BLS survey period on September 14. If it is resolved quickly, it won’t be visible in the establishment survey. If it lingers through the end of the next survey period on October 12, then it will affect the October Employment Situation report when it is released on Friday, November 1 at 8:30 ET.

While a strike on the scale of the present one at GM can result in an uncomfortable drop in a sector’s payroll data for the month in which it occurs, the jobs are promptly added back in when the strike is settled. As such, it does not affect the fundamentals of the labor market. There can be regional impacts on consumer spending, increases in layoffs for businesses hurt by the strike, and other knock-on affects. These don’t tend to drag down the overall national data. However, the timing is unfortunate given the softening in growth and could have more of an impact than usual.

 

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