- The Labor Department said Thursday it is changing the rules for how it disseminates the monthly nonfarm payrolls report.
- Computers no longer will be allowed in the lockup room where journalists receive the reports ahead of time.
- A department official denied the move was politically motivated, though the rule pertains to Bloomberg News, whose founder is running for president.
The Labor Department is changing the way it will release economic reports to the public, in an effort to tighten security it says gave Wall Street traders an unfair advantage.
In an announcement Thursday, the department said it no longer will allow computers in the lockups it hosts for credentialed press. Media members have access ahead of time to reports, in particular the monthly nonfarm payrolls count, in a room with no outside access. Print and digital outlets are allowed to file stories precisely at 8:30, while broadcast networks have their own lockups after which they can report the news.
The changes are aimed at news organizations that sell the information from the reports to high-speed traders, according to a senior department official who spoke on condition of anonymity. While the spokesman denied that the new rules are aimed at any one outlet, one media firm that this pertains to is Bloomberg News, whose founder, Michael Bloomberg, is running for president as a Democrat.
As a practical matter, the new rules will most impact print and digital, who won't have access to devices to file stories immediately after the jobs report, which is closely watched on Wall Street and often moves markets.
The department previously had prohibited outside devices like laptops, tablets and smart watches from the lockup room. It did, however, allow journalists to work at DOL computers whose online access was shut down during the lockups.
There was no apparent recent provocation for the move. The department spokesman said the impetus came instead from the department's inspector general.
The changes will take effect March 1.