If early employment data for November is any indication, then Friday's official unemployment report could be the best in years. The economy began looking a little healthier in October, and employers may have taken note. The strongest performance of the year thus far for the private sector was 241,000 jobs added in April, which was also the most in a month since March 2006. Could November raise the bar?

The results we've got so far certain suggest that's a possibility. The Department of Labor's weekly jobless claims have begun to decline pretty steadily. Although they rose slightly last week, the average weekly initial claims in November were down 25,500 compared to October. For the data we have so far, continuing claims were also down in November on average, by 128,400 compared to October.

Now that could just mean that more people are giving up on finding work, but this week's report from payroll specialist ADP also suggests (.pdf) that the private sector is hiring. The company reported an increase of 93,000 jobs added by firms, which is the most it reported for any month this year. This was also better than its previous high for April of 65,000 jobs added. Moreover, ADP raised its estimate for October to 82,000 from 43,000, which suggests that the government's number for the month may also be revised in the positive direction.

Yet there is some bad news. The Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. report (.pdf) said that layoffs actually increased in November by 28% to 48,711. That's the highest level in eight months. So hiring may face a headwind of firing in the quest to surpass April's 241,000 mark.

We'll have to wait until Friday to know for sure, but it certainly looks possible that the November report could be an extremely strong one. If you have a prediction, feel free to provide your thoughts as a comment below.

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