What we already know about July jobs situation
ADP's private-sector report
Over time, the ADP report on private-sector jobs is the best around in predicting the Labor Department's hotly-awaited payrolls report. But on any given month, there can be quite a bit of difference between the two reports. More recently, ADP's numbers have been running ahead of the government's.
The four-week average of first-time jobless claims -- a pretty good proxy for layoffs -- has been descending for the last three years. But that's only one side of the job employment coin -- the hiring side hasn't been as strong.
Employment component of ISM manufacturing index
The survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector conducted by the Institute for Supply Management is a highly regarded indicator for the economy, and the survey contains a question on whether employment has increased or decreased on the month. The 4.6-point drop in July isn't a particularly good sign, then. The ISM services index also has a question on employment, but the report isn't due until after the jobs report is published on Friday.
Consumer view of jobs picture
Each month, as part of its consumer confidence report, The Conference Board asks consumers if jobs are plentiful or hard to get. The percentage of those saying jobs are plentiful hasn't been higher than those who say they are hard to get since January 2008, just as the recession started.
Job ads online
The Conference Board also tracks the number of job ads online. The chart above smooths the data a bit by looking over three-month increments. In any case, the figures suggest that companies have scaled back their hiring plans.