NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors looking forward to exciting news from the September non-farm payrolls report on Friday may be disappointed. Most economists and analysts are expecting a performance similar to what happened last month with the private sector showing modest growth.

Private sector payrolls are expected to increase by 74,000, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.co,m after rising 67,000 in August. Estimates from economists polled by TheStreet ranged between an increase of 60,000 to 100,000. The overall unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 9.7% from 9.6%, though some experts do not rule out a higher rate as previously discouraged workers re-enter the workforce.

The market has been struggling for direction in recent days as the latest economic reports have sent conflicting signals on what to expect on the employment front.

On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report showed private sector jobs fell 39,000 against a projected increase of 18,000. . That was more or less in line with a Challenger Gray & Christmas report that showed September layoffs increased by 7% to 37,151.

On Thursday, the Labor Department said initial claims for the week ended Oct. 2 showed a surprise drop to 445,000 from 456,000 a week earlier.

Earlier in the week, the ISM nonmanufacturing data showed an improvement in both the index of new orders and employment, boosting hopes for more hiring in the sector that provides the most jobs in the economy.

However, the numbers did not provide a strong-enough signal, according to Brian Bethune of Global Insight. "I would like to see the services employment index go up higher," he said.

The lack of strong signals has led to largely modest expectations from the jobs report. Analysts expect the service sector to continue hiring, while the manufacturing sector is expected to show a slowdown. Construction will continue to be weak and would likely record a decline.

More job cuts may also be in store at the state and local level with the impact of the Census hiring fading away.

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