Ahead of Friday’s scheduled release of national job numbers for July, some indicators point to a weak report.

Initial jobless claims, released today took an unexpected jump to 479,000. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast a median of 455,000. Consumer confidence is at a year low, according to a recent University of Michigan and Reuters poll. The confidence index sank to 66.5 in early July, the lowest since August, 2009.  So concern abounds about what those data portend for the job numbers.

The June report showed that the U.S. lost 125,000 nonfarm jobs. The private sector added 83,000 jobs but that growth was more than wiped out by a drop in the number of temporary employees working on the U.S. Census.The drop came after an increase of 313,000 nonfarm jobs for April and 433,000 for May, both because of the hiring of temporary Census workers.

On Long Island, job growth as been anemic and erratic as well. The Island had 5,400 more jobs in June than it did in June 2009. In the May period, the economy had just 700 more jobs and 5,000 more jobs in the comparable April period.

Both federal and local data for those months are a reminder of how volatile a recovering job market can be. Yet some experts say recent weak numbers don’t necessarily mean the U.S. will slip back into a recession.

“The job numbers may be weaker than some are expecting,” said the Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a report released today. “However, dips in the job numbers and in these other indicators do not necessarily mean an early sequel to the recession.”

What’s more added the firm, “We are still in the relatively early stages of the recovery. Considering how long and deep the recession was, it is only natural that the recovery has some ups and downs. Remember, it took 21 months before we saw consistent job gains following the 2001 recession, and that was considered a mild recession.”

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But national indicators aren’t all negative. On Monday, the Conference Board, the Manhattan business research group, reported that its online job demand index inched up in July, making it six months of modest growth in that data.

Above, a job seeker checks a bulletin board at an employment center.

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