The pair of economic reports that precede Friday's national unemployment figures sound pretty hopeful on the whole, but each one has a caveat. First came the payroll firm ADP's report that showed 201,000 jobs added in the private sector during August. That one beat the 140,000 predicted by Bloomberg's economists, which is great, but those same economists don't expect the overall unemployment rate to change much on Friday, staying instead at 8.3 percent.

Then there's the Department of Labor's weekly unemployment claims report, which dropped by a hopeful 12,000 from the week before, coming in at a seasonally adjusted 365,000. That's also good news, but it's tempered by the fact that the four-week moving average, which is a more stable number, rose a bit to 371,000. Still, as AP always points out, "when they consistently fall below 375,000, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate." Cross your fingers for Friday's official numbers.