Jobless claims up slightly, consistent with improving labor market

Although the immediate economic effects of the government shutdown are probably small, it is possible that the claims figures may rise next week because of temporary layoffs.

Still, jobless claims have been steadily dropping this year, a sign of the healing labor market and that employers are laying off fewer workers. 

But that has yet to translate into steadily rising jobs numbers. Monthly averages have dropped off to around 150,000 a month, although that is within the range of the job market's growth over the past few years. 

Businesses have expressed frustration about the effects of consistent fiscal uncertainty created by lawmakers on Capitol Hill is hampering their ability to expand their payrolls. 

Many business groups — from retailers to the nation's top CEOs — have prodded congressional leaders to keep the government up and running and approve a debt ceiling increase before the Oct. 17 deadline. 

They have argued that lawmakers need to tackle long-term, complex issues such as entitlements, immigration and tax reform to get spending, and the debt and deficit under control. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will not release its monthly jobs report for September on Friday while the government is shuttered. 

That plan could upset financial markets, which are starting to reflect the lack of any agreement or the willingness of some lawmakers to reopen the government. 

In a separate report on Wednesday, ADP said that private-sector businesses added just 166,000 jobs in last month, within the long-term average but a bit slower than hoped. 

While the economy grew at a 2.5 percent rate in the April-June quarter, there are concerns that the expansion was much more sluggish in the third quarter, between 1 percent and 2 percent, based on economists' forecasts. 

A prolonged shutdown could start to weigh on fourth quarter figures. But a debt ceiling deadline miss would do far greater damage, potentially plunging the economy back into a recession and leaving policymakers helpless, at that point, to reverse course.