The Labor Department said 195,000 fewer people were working in July, contrasting a widely circulated number of 163,000 jobs added in the month.
The explanation for the colliding figures is that the Labor Department conducts two separate surveys each month, one that counts jobs and one that counts people, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
In the long run, the figures head in the same direction, but they can be shifty on a month-to-month basis, the Journal reported.
By counting jobs, the department's business survey can count one person twice, if that person has two jobs. On the other hand, a second survey is directed toward households. That survey counts self-employed workers who have an unincorporated business and unpaid workers on farms. The first survey misses those, the newspaper reported.
On an adjusted basis, which is to say accounting for both surveys, the Labor Department said the economy added 108,000 jobs in July, a sharp contrast from the headline-generating figure of 163,000 jobs that was announced Friday.