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Some Mixed Signals From Latest Jobs Numbers

Three closely watched employment indicators are out this morning:

-- Unemployment Benefits. There were 363,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, down from 372,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says. So, as they have all year, claims remain in a range between 350,000 and 400,000.

-- Job Growth. "Private sector employment increased by 158,000 jobs from September to October," according to the latest ADP National Employment Report. That follows a gain of 114,000 from August to September, according to the private management consultants.

-- Layoff Plans. "Planned job cuts by U.S.-based employers surged 41 percent in October to 47,724, as a spate of layoff announcements in the wake of weak quarterly earnings reports helped push downsizing activity to its highest level in five months," outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. say.

So we have some mixed signals.

Things may get clearer, of course, on Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the October unemployment rate and its estimate of how many jobs were added to public and private payrolls. A month ago, it said the jobless rate was 7.8 percent in September and that payrolls rose by 114,000 that month.

According to Reuters, economists it has surveyed expect BLS will say there were 125,000 jobs added to payrolls and that the jobless rate edged up to 7.9 percent in October.

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