Can you believe that tomorrow is already the first Friday of July? That means we'll soon learn the official unemployment numbers for June. May's results were very disappointing, since Census jobs accounted for most of the employment growth. The reports we've seen so far for June aren't very encouraging either. Did the unemployment rate rise or fall last month, and by how many jobs? Vote below!

Today, we learned the latest weekly jobless claims numbers. The news isn't good. Initial claims increased by 13,000 to 472,000. Analysts expected a decline to 455,000. Today's reading puts the four-week moving average at 466,500. Initial claims have hovered in the upper 400,000s for most of the year. Continuing claims also rose for the week ending June 19th by 43,000 to 4.62 million.

ADP didn't provide much cheerier data. Wednesday, its report said that 13,000 new jobs were created in the private sector in June. That was well below the consensus estimate of 65,000. It's also much lower than May's gain of 55,000. And remember, May was a weak month.

Finally, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. report (.pdf) for layoffs doesn't provide reason for much optimism either. It showed that employers planned to cut 39,358 jobs in June, which was a 1.4% increase from the layoffs in May.

Last month, about 18% of readers correctly predicted that the unemployment rate would decline to 9.7%. In terms of the number of new jobs, respondents did a little better, with 21% correctly predicting between 400,001 and 500,000 new jobs.

So layoffs edged up a bit as hiring increased slightly. That should make for a pretty weak June labor market performance. But then, strange things can happen with unemployment statistics the way the government calculates them, so it's pretty hard to tell. So what do you think?