It's tempting to be optimistic about Wednesday's report by the payroll firm ADP, that showed the private sector added 163,000 jobs in July and beat analysts' expectations of 120,000, but that report has been pretty far from the official figures of late. The ADP report comes out two days ahead of the official monthly unemployment data, and for the last two months it's been a frustrating tease. The report for June showed the country added 176,000 private-sector jobs, but the official figure showed growth of just 80,000 jobs. In May, report showed 133,000 jobs added, but again the government's figures showed far fewer with just 69,000 added. This month's weekly unemployment reports have been fluctuating wildly thanks to seasonal changes in auto hiring, so it's a bit hard to tell what the trend is.
Friday's official announcement will be a big deal, politically, as the unemployment rate has been stuck at a frustratingly high 8.2 percent for the last two months, doing damage to President Barack Obama's record on job growth just before the election.