Gov't watchdog calls for ending unemployment data lockups, says unfair to some investors

WASHINGTON – A Labor Department watchdog has recommended ending a practice that allows reporters to review a key unemployment report before it is made public.

The department’s Inspector General says media “lockups” for weekly unemployment benefits are a problem because news outlets can feed the data to investment firms and financial exchanges immediately after the 30-minute lockups end.

Several news services use software to transmit data to traders, who then profit because they have the data fractions of a second before others. The AP provides such data to the Nasdaq exchange, which then sells the data to its customers.

The Labor Department has raised its own concerns about the early release of market-moving data and responded to the report by saying it will consider ending the unemployment benefits lockup.