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On the radar: End of press data lock-ups delayed until after the March 6 Employment Situation Release

On February 25, the BLS announced that the planned changes to the end the traditional system of lock-ups for news outlets to release the economic data would end as of March 9, not March 1 as previously announced on January 16. While the February 25 statement does not say so, the issue is that on March 6 at 8:30 the February Employment Situation is set for release. The delivery of the numbers via the internet will not get a real-time, real-life exercise with another first-tier economic data release prior to then. A failure to provide the data promptly at the end of the 8:30 embargo period would be a major embarrassment for the BLS, but also a disaster for markets hungry for the all-important report.

The Commissioner’ letter says, “We have undergone weeks of testing our capability to deliver data on an orderly and time fashion over the internet and through other channels,” and “I am confident that BLS and the Department can make the planned changes to the lock-up in a way that offers the public equitable and timely access to data while ensuring the highest levels of security”. This assurance may be completely accurate, but better not to test the limits of the system for the first time with the most critical report among the high-frequency economic data.

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