The private sector gained 114,000 jobs in July, 9,000 more than economists expected, The Wall Street Journal's Kathleen Madigan reports. (Bloomberg, too, had forcast slower job growth at about 100,00 new gigs.) The jobs report, from the payroll company Automatic Data Processing, comes ahead of the Labor Department's jobs report, which will be released Friday and includes government workers. Economists expect the public sector to have suffered layoffs, the Journal reports.

ADP's private business report was stronger than expected in June, too--145,000 new jobs--but the day after it was released, the Labor Department offered its own jobs tally at 18,000 that month. So many expect this month's missive from the department to be a downer, too. Medium-sized and small businesses added most of the jobs.
 
On the other hand, Bloomberg's Bob Willis reports that July saw the most layoffs in 16 months. Compared to a year ago, planned firings are up 59 percent, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The pharmaceutical industry saw the most layoffs, with Merck & Co.'s 13,000 pink slips making up a big chunk of the 66,414 total.