NEW YORK (CNN) -- Is the economy getting better or worse? Are businesses hiring or laying off?
These are just two difficult questions that might get even trickier to answer if the government shuts down on Friday due to a budget impasse between Congress and the White House.
Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Commerce Department say they will forgo releasing regularly scheduled economic reports.
If the shutdown occurs, the BLS won't give a report on Thursday about how many people have filed for first-time unemployment benefits, according to agency spokesman Gary Steinberg. And if the shutdown were to drag out to Fri., May 6, the mother of all economic reports -- the monthly jobs report -- would also be skipped.
Steinberg said contingency plans for how BLS would release any delayed information are not made public.
The Department of Commerce, which is responsible for publishing such important indicators as Gross Domestic Product and new home sales, will also forgo releasing economic data in the event of a shutdown.
"Our current understanding is that in the case of a government shutdown, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Economic and Statistics Administration would be closed," an administration official said.
"We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios," the administration official added.
Economic reports scheduled for the week of April 11 that could be delayed are: retail sales and business inventories; unemployment claims; the Consumer Price Index; and the Producer Price Index.
The Federal Reserve which publishes reports on Industrial Production and Regional Manufacturing Surveys would not be affected because of they are self-funding and therefore not subject to the congressional budget appropriations process, according to the agency's website.