The economy is expected to have added 179,000 jobs in June, but economists are more concerned about whether workers got a raise.
The lack of inflation in the economy — wages and prices — has been a concern to some Federal Reserve officials, who have signaled they are willing to look past it for now.
But some of the first kindling for warmer inflation should show up in the labor force with wage increases, and pay is just creeping higher. Economists expect to see a 0.3 percent rise in June, or an annualized pace of 2.6 percent after May's 0.15 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters.
"I was looking for a low [nonfarm payrolls] number of 150,000 because we're starting to get retail layoffs," said Diane Swonk, CEO of DS Economics. "The real conundrum is whether we get any wage acceleration. I'm more concerned about that."
Swonk said the biggest outlier in the wage data for May was the manufacturing sector, which saw an annual increase of just 1.4 percent.
Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS, said the average hourly wage data in the employment report may have become a bigger focus, but even so, Fed Chair Janet Yellen has indicated she sees the soft inflation data as transitory.
The focus on wages has intensified since the Fed indicated it hopes to begin reducing its balance sheet as well as raise interest rates before the end of the year. Markets have been skeptical that the Fed will be able to raise rates again this year.
"There's likely to be an upward trend [in wages] because the labor market is tight and it's getting tighter," Carpenter said. "Lots of people are focused on it. I think the focus has shifted more and perhaps too much more on the monthly [CPI] inflation number."
Carpenter said he expects 155,000 jobs and there could be a 15,000 hit in education, based on the technicalities with the end of the school year. In May, job creation was just 138,000, less than expected.
"Tomorrow's a big day. You could see a pretty big knee-jerk reaction if the number misses consensus by 25,000 or 30,000," said Carpenter.
Economists expect to see unemployment remain at a low 4.3 percent. Carpenter said he will be looking for more signs that slack in the labor market is diminishing.
Ben Herzon, senior economist at Macroeconomic Advisers, expects to see 168,000 jobs.
"For the next several months, we have a number like the 168,000 assumed. We haven't seen much of a change when you look at GDP growth averaged over a couple of quarters. You're still running at 2 percent," Herzon said.
"The economy is growing at a moderate pace but given the trends of productivity it's a fast enough pace to keep job growth at a pretty healthy level," he said. "As far as wages, if you squint you can kind of see an upper trend in wage growth."
Herzon said the wage data has been volatile, but it is running at about a 2.5 percent pace if you look over a number of months. He said wage and price inflation move higher in tandem.