If the Federal Reserve is hanging its policymaking hat on the August jobs number, then it's likely to be disappointed and unmotivated to raise rates.
In large part, that's because the month has been tied for the worst of the year for job creation during the post-recession recovery and the noisiest in terms of how much the initial number differs from the final revision two months later.
So if the Fed is looking for confirmation from the labor market that the time is ripe for a rate hike, August could provide little solace. The report is always closely watched on Wall Street, but this month's will be especially important as many market-watchers believe a good number could propel the Fed to increase rates at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting Sept. 20-21.
"Investors are going to have to seriously consider the possibility of a September hike if we get a strong set of numbers on Friday," said Luke Bartholomew, investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management. "Everyone had largely discounted this scenario until now, so we might get a wobble in risk markets if the numbers are good."
But the following two charts show how strange of a month August has been historically since the end of the Great Recession. The first chart is a comparison of all months showing the mean (average) and median (midpoint) for each, while the second shows the initially reported jobs number in August compared to the final tally.