Tomorrow, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will produce the June jobs report, but we have a look at two key indicators this morning.  First, weekly initial jobless claims dropped to 374,000, a decline from last week’s adjusted number of 388,000:

In the week ending June 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 374,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 388,000. The 4-week moving average was 385,750, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 387,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending June 23, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 23 was 3,306,000, an increase of 4,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,302,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,304,250, a decrease of 3,000 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,307,250.

Last week’s report was at 386K initially, and we can probably expect this week’s number to rise next week, too.  Thanks to the holiday, the number may rise more than usual; this data series gets volatile around holidays, and especially Independence Day, for some reason.  However, assuming the adjustment is small, it’s not much of a change.  The changing level of claims continues to be within the statistical-noise band; this has been a pretty stable indicator for more than a year now, so there isn’t anything to indicate a significant change in the labor market in either direction.

ADP, the payroll processing giant, provides today’s second indicator, and on the surface it looks more positive:

Employment in the U.S. nonfarm private business sector increased by 176,000 from May to June, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The estimated gain from April to May was revised up slightly, from the initial estimate of 133,000 to a revised estimate of 136,000.

Employment in the private, service-providing sector rose 160,000 in June, after rising a revised 137,000 in May. Employment in the private, goods-producing sector added 16,000 jobs in June. Manufacturing employment added 4,000, reversing May’s decline.

Employment on large payrolls—those with 500 or more workers—increased 11,000 and employment on medium payrolls—those with 50 to 499 workers—rose 72,000 in June. Employment on small payrolls—those with up to 49 workers—rose 93,000 that same period. Of the 72,000 jobs created by medium- sized payrolls, 7,000 jobs were created by the goods producing sector and 65,000 jobs were created by the service-providing sector.

The number on its own would show modest growth in the job market above the level needed for population growth (between 125K-150K), if the number reliably indicated the BLS data.  However, ADP’s reports almost always overstate job growth as measured by BLS.  ADP’s measure of job growth in May, 133,000, is almost double that from the BLS report of 69,000.

ABC News reports that analyst expectations fall in line with that same ADP/BLS ratio:

The Labor Department’s June jobs report–the most closely-watched economic number leading up to the presidential election–will be released on Friday and economists don’t expect much summer sunshine in the nation’s unemployment picture.

Economists expect that employers added around 90,000 jobs in June, higher than the 69,000 jobs added in May, but lower than what is needed for a full economic recovery from the last recession that began with the mortgage meltdown in 2008.

Again, bear in mind that the economy has to add 125K-150K jobs each month to keep up with population growth — and more than that now to keep up with the work permits being issued by the federal government as part of Barack Obama’s new immigration policies.  A 90K growth in jobs would look bleak, representing a negative practical growth rate in jobs, and approaching a literal negative number.

Another report shows some upside to a higher estimate, however, with some good news on layoffs:

Meanwhile, the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell in June to its lowest level in over a year, suggesting employers were not rapidly downsizing even as the economic recovery slows, a report on Thursday showed.

Employers announced 37,551 planned job cuts last month, down 39.3 percent from 61,887 in May, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Job cuts were also down 9.4 percent from June last year when 41,432 reductions were announced. Layoffs were at their lowest level since May 2011.

Despite recent signs that the economic recovery is losing steam, employers appear reluctant to shed too many workers, John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

“While it does not take long to shrink payrolls, it can take a significant amount of time to rebuild them, particularly as reports of a growing skills gap become more widespread,” he said.

I’ll predict that the number tomorrow will be 105,000 jobs added, with a jobless rate of 8.2%.  What are your predictions on the jobs-added figure?  Take the poll: