Job applicants meet potential employers at the NYC Startup Job Fair held at 7 World Trade Center on September 28, 2012 in New York City. - 

Tomorrow we'll bring you the latest employment report and unemployment rate from the Labor Department -- one of the most watched pieces of economic data each month.

In the meantime, though, today brings a lot else to scrutinize: Payroll processor ADP says U.S. companies added 158,000 jobs last month. Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week. And productivity growth continued to slow in October -- sounds bad at first, but some folks see that as a good omen for hiring.
And we have the monthly job cuts report from the firm Challenger Gray and Christmas, which says that planned layoffs jumped in October -- up 41 percent in October to almost 48,000, the highest level since May.

CEO John Challenger says: "We saw over 47,000 job cuts announced in the month, that was up 12 percent from what we saw a year ago. At the same time for the year, we've now seen over 433,000 job cuts -- that's 17 percent fewer than the first 10 months of 2011."

Challenger says the cuts may be due to a spate of poor earnings announcements by companies in October. "In today's environment, companies take quick action. If their business levels are down, then they may drop their employment levels, they try to satisfy their shareholders by cutting costs," he says.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich