Big jobs number coming? Data firm TrimTabs says just 23,000
Before anyone gets too excited about job prospects for July, a data firm is reporting that payroll growth was much slower than expected.
TrimTabs estimated Wednesday that employment slowed to a trickle, with just 23,000 positions added for the month.
That came the same day ADP and Moody's Analytics put private payroll gains alone at 200,000, a number that could drive up economists' expectations that the total economy created 183,000.
(Read more: Jumping jobs! Private sector makes big hiring move)
TrimTabs bases its monthly estimates on income tax deposits to the U.S. Treasury, and its counts often veer—sometimes sharply—from the government's official total that comes out the first Friday of each month.
In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy added 195,000, while TrimTabs put the number at a relatively close 182,000. In May, though, the disparity was far greater, with the government asserting 195,000 while TrimTabs estimated 135,000.
David Santschi, the firm's CEO, attributed the slow July to an increase in mortgage rates that he said slowed the economy.
The payrolls number is critical in that it is part of the baseline the Federal Reserve uses in devising monetary policy.
(Read more: Wall St.: Fall taper mostly priced in)
The U.S. central bank currently is creating money to buy $85 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities and Treasurys. Fed officials have said, though, that the purchases likely will be tapered this year if the economic data continue to improve.
Gross domestic product grew a better-than-expected 1.7 percent in the second quarter, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday, though the the first quarter growth was reduced to a scant 1.1 percent.
(Read more: Doomsayers begone!US growth beats by a mile)
"The economy is much weaker than most investors realize," Santschi said in a statement. "Most Wall Street economists expect the Fed to scale back the pace of money printing in September, but I suspect any changes will be very modest because the economy is so fragile."
TrimTabs isn't the only outfit with a dim view of July jobs, though.
Small-business payroll firm SurePayroll said hiring actually decreased 0.1 percent for the month.
That also comes in sharp contrast with the findings from ADP, which said firms with fewer than 50 employees actually led hiring, with 82,000 new positions.
(Read more: Markets focused on Fed policy? Nope, it's on this)
In fact, SurePayroll president Michael Alter called the current state a "jobless recovery" in which small companies are being helped more by technological improvements.
"We've seen this trend for a while now, and our data this month really supports the idea that small businesses are leveraging technology to be more efficient, and so they're able to grow without hiring," Alter said.
In addition to slow payroll growth, Alter said salaries fell 0.2 percent. TrimTabs said wages and salaries grew just 0.4 percent in June, the slowest of the year.
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him
@JeffCoxCNBCcom on Twitter.