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U.S. Census Bureau Cancels Media Briefings Ahead of Economic-Data Releases

By Eric Morath

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Census Bureau has canceled media briefings ahead of economic-data releases for an indefinite period because of the new coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the bureau will only release economic data, including Tuesday's retail-sales report, live on its website.

The Census Bureau's retail sales report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday and its housing starts report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Additional Census reports are due out in the coming weeks. Data will be posted online at www.census.gov/economic-indicators, the bureau said.

A spokeswoman for the bureau said in a statement that the press briefings "are canceled until further notice." The Trump administration on Sunday ordered government agencies to begin allowing as many federal employees to telework as possible, citing a growing number of coronavirus cases in the Washington, D.C., area.

Spokespeople for other federal agencies that release economic data -- the Labor Department, the Federal Reserve and the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis -- didn't immediately respond to an inquiry Monday.

Typically, the government shares economic indicator data with media organizations, including Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal, shortly before the public release. These closed briefings, called lockups, allow reporters to prepare headlines and stories to be released concurrently with the public disclosure of the data.

Subscribers to Dow Jones Newswires may notice a short delay in headlines and stories due to the canceled briefings.

Write to By Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 16, 2020 12:25 ET (16:25 GMT)

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