Recent stock market volatility and a key Federal Reserve meeting next month have made this Friday\u2019s jobs report one of the most anticipated releases in years. What should we be watching for in Friday\u2019s jobs numbers? Watching Fed Policy During the 2007-2008 financial crisis, one of the most controversial Fed policies dropped the economy\u2019s benchmark interest rate\u2014known as the federal funds rate\u2014to essentially zero. At the time, it was viewed it as a necessary measure to avoid a financial collapse and was intended as a temporary move. Seven years later the Fed\u2019s key interest rate remains near zero. Although the financial crisis is well behind us and the labor market has improved dramatically, Fed policymakers remain cautious due to the economy\u2019s sluggish recovery. Today, inflation hawks at the Fed warn that holding interest rates artificially low limits our ability to use monetary stimulus if we fall into another recession. Conversely, the Fed\u2019s inflation doves argue that raising rates too quickly risks derailing the recovery. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Weighing the Evidence Policymakers will be watching this Friday\u2019s jobs report closely for any signs of weakness in the labor market. In particular, they\u2019re looking for a return to healthy wage growth\u2014which has been notoriously flat for half of a decade\u2014and continued growth in non-farm payrolls. On the plus side, we\u2019re in an historic period of stability and job creation. July marks 58 consecutive months of job growth, the longest streak since the late 1930s (see the above chart). Today\u2019s 5.3 percent unemployment rate is near what economists call \u201cfull employment\u201d and weekly unemployment claims are hovering below 300,000\u2014less than half the rate of the last recession. Combined with scorching 3.7 percent GDP growth during Q2 2015, it\u2019s hard to argue the economy isn\u2019t in terrific overall shape. On the down side, wage growth remains stubbornly flat. Despite a tightening labor market average hourly wages are growing at just 2.1 percent per year, well below the Fed\u2019s target. The large number of sidelined workers has also been a persistent problem during the recovery, and although there has been dramatic improvement in recent months, many policymakers see this remaining slack in the labor market as reason to delay a rate hike as long as possible. Bottom line: With news of weakness in China\u2019s economy, a volatile stock market, and the strongest U.S. dollar in a decade hurting exporters, it\u2019s unlikely that the Fed will begin raising interest rates at its September 17 meeting. Most analysts are expecting the Fed to delay action until December in hopes the tumultuous international economic landscape settles down. According to CME Group, markets are expecting a 28 percent chance of a Fed rate hike in September, and a 56 percent chance at the Fed\u2019s December meeting. The Numbers: Last month the economy created 215,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent. This month the Wall Street Journal\u2019s consensus forecast is for 209,000 new jobs. On the heels of a stronger than expected Q2 GDP report, we\u2019re expecting stronger job gains of 220,000 new jobs, a 5.2 percent unemployment rate, and continued slow decline of the labor force participation rate to 62.5 percent. As markets continue to tighten, watch for hourly wage growth to accelerate slowly to\u00a02.2-2.4 percent. To speak with Andrew Chamberlain about the August jobs report or labor market trends, contact\u00a0pr glassdoor com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, subscribe to email alerts here and follow @adchamberlain.