UPDATED 08/02/11 10:43 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Ahead of the key government employment report for July, which comes out Friday, there are ominous signs today that more people are losing their jobs.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, one signal comes from Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, which points to a sudden and unexpected burst of private-sector downsizing in July.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The report shows the number of announce job cuts surging to a 16-month high of more than 66,000 last month. That figure is up 16 percent compared with June, and 59 percent compared with a year ago.

The cuts come from a handful of major companies, including Borders – which is in the process of closing its remaining bookstores – as well as Merck, Lockheed Martin, and Cisco Systems.

In Illinois, meanwhile, 10 companies have filed notice with the state that they plan to lay off workers in the next couple of months. Among them is the Sun-Times Media Group, which will cut 465 jobs.

The Schofield Media Group has also given notice that it is cutting 107 Chicago area employees.

Other Illinois companies set to lay off workers include Consolidated Container in Elk Grove Village, On-Cor Frozen Foods in the West Loop, and Sid’s Greenhouse and Garden Center in Lake Bluff, which is closing.