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Sandy threatens release of monthly jobs data Friday

Voters may not get their last glimpse at the state of the nation's jobs market until just before they head into the polls next week, as Hurricane Sandy forced the government to shut down again on Tuesday.

Analysts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics have done some advance work on the crucial monthly report and are scrambling to finish in time for Friday morning's scheduled release, based on typical bureau procedures. But with the announcement that the federal government will be closed again Tuesday after being shuttered Monday due to the massive storm lashing the East Coast, the release date may be in jeopardy.

"The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, Nov. 2," Carl Fillichio, senior adviser for communications and public affairs at the Department of Labor, told NBC News by email. "It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation Report."

The employment report is the government's first indication of how the economy performed in October, and will be the last major economic report before the Nov. 6 election. While most voters probably will not be swayed by the data, whenever it gets released, a report that's very negative could hurt President Barack Obama at the polls while one that's very positive may help him.

Economists estimate the economy created a net 124,000 jobs in October, up a bit from last month's modest 114,000 gain. The unemployment rate is expected to inch up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.

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