Government Denies Advance Jobs Report to Some News Outlets

Three organizations will be denied access to an advance briefing each month on the closely watched monthly jobs report released by the Department of Labor, according to sources familiar with the decisions. The denial will take effect for the jobs report released July 6.

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The Department of Labor, concerned about early leaks of the intensely valuable market moving monthly employment data, has been tightening up procedures surrounding “lockups,” a long standing courtesy for reporters covering the data.

In the lockup system, reporters are typically given the information at 8 a.m. on the first Friday of each month, and are obligated not to release it until exactly 8:30 a.m., when the information becomes public. At that point, global financial markets can react dramatically to large swings in the U.S. employment situation.

Under the new system, the Department of Labor has issued fresh guidelines for credentials for organizations that will be allowed into the room to receive the advance information. Those guidelines require the information to be widely circulated to an organization's readership or viewership. That would seem to exclude narrowly tailored data services that provide information strictly to a narrowly tailored high paying audience.

According to a source familiar with the deliberations, three entities have been denied access to the early information: The Bond Buyer, RTT News, and Need to Know News, all of which had applied for credentials under the new rules.

At least two of the organizations are not pleased with the Department of Labor’s decision to exclude them. And each has filed additional paperwork with more information about their operations in an effort to persuade the government officials to reverse their decision.

“We’re considering a lot of possibilities,” said Michael Stanton publisher of The Bond Buyer, a leading chronicler of the muni bond market. “We’d like to resolve this without litigation.”

Stanton said that The Bond Buyer has had access to the Department of Labor advance jobs report briefing for decades, and perhaps as far back as 1978.

Similarly, Ravi Mariathasan of RTT News said that his organization has also protested the decision.

“Given we feel we meet all their credentialing requirements as we did in the past, we are taking necessary steps to challenge their decision,” Mariathasan told CNBC in an email.

One of the issues the Department of Labor has been looking at is organizations installing their own fiber-optic cable and computers in the briefing room — which in an era of high speed trading can be used to transmit the information to traders milliseconds faster than other technologies.

Under the new rules, organizations will have to use computers and communications lines provided by the government to file stories.

The Department of Labor has posted a list of those organizations that have been credentialed to participate in the lockups, effective as of the report released July 6th. Those are:

  • Agence France-Presse
  • Associated Press
  • Bloomberg News
  • Bloomberg Television
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • Dow Jones Newswires
  • Fox Business Network
  • Jiji Press
  • Kyodo News
  • Market News International
  • MarketWatch
  • The Nikkei
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Tribune Company