Private sector payrolls rose at a faster pace than expected in July, but a surprising increase in layoffs in the sector helped push the number of announced U.S. jobs cuts to a 16-month high, separate reports showed Wednesday.

The data come ahead of Friday’s closely watched July jobs report, which is expected to show 85,000 nonfarm payrolls and a 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

“What may be most worrisome about the July surge is that the heaviest layoffs occurred in industries that, until now, have enjoyed relatively low job-cut levels,” John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

Layoffs in the pharmaceutical and retail sectors overtook nonprofit and government job cuts last month, accounting for 20.32 percent and 16.93 percent of announcements, respectively.

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