WASHINGTON -- December job growth could be reduced by the call-up last month of at least 30,459 armed forces reservists, according to Defense Department data and Labor Department procedures.
The Labor Department has left it up to the respondents to its establishment survey to account for the reservists, offering no guidelines.
As a result, employers at their discretion could say a reservist is unemployed while on active duty, amplifying and masking the degree of economic weakness.
According to the Pentagon, 127,293 reservists were called up from Aug. 23 through Dec. 20. Of these, 34,168 reservists were called up from Aug. 23 through the end of October, and 62,666 were called up in November.
A Pentagon spokesman says that data are available only as of Dec. 20 because of the season's holidays, but that more updated information is forthcoming.
"The effect on our estimates [of the call-up] is impossible to gauge," a Labor official familiar with the payroll data collection procedures has said.
The data on jobs will be released Friday morning.