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Jobs Report Delayed for First Time Since 1996

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics didn't print its monthly employment report on Friday, marking the first time in more than 17 years that a government shutdown prevented the agency from fulfilling its duty.

The news didn't surprise investors as the Labor Department's Web site announced Thursday that it wouldn't issue the report due to a lapse of funding amid the closure sparked by the congressional impasse.

The last time the Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the jobs report because of a shutdown was Jan. 5, 1996, when the government was in the middle of a 21-day dispute. If the December 1996 delayed report is any indication of how long investors will have to wait for the September 2013 data to emerge, it could be another three weeks.

The unemployment rate and nonfarm payrolls finally printed on Jan. 19, 1996, a 14-day postponement.

While the Federal Reserve, financial sector and Americans rely heavily on the jobs data, analysts and economists say there's no reason yet for markets to panic.

"It sort of reminds me of a kid who was forced to miss Halloween, where you feel a little downhearted the day of or even the day after, but you know it's not going to be the end of the world," said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

"We are OK for the moment, but it's important that we have current and recent information," said Tanweer Akram, senior economist at ING Investment Management. "It's not just nonfarm payroll data we won't be getting, CPI and PPI and other data from the BLS. That is of natural concern, particularly if the government shutdown extends."

Investors are relying on Wednesday's ADP monthly private payrolls and Thursday's weekly jobless claims to get a sense of the current labor situation in the United States. ADP reported 166,000 private payrolls added in September -- economists surveyed by Bloomberg Data were expecting a rise of 180,000 -- while weekly jobless claims rose 305,000, less than expected.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for nonfarm payrolls in September to rise 180,000 and for the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 7.3%.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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