The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest facts and figures on the state of the job market this morning, and the news was grim ... or joyous. Really, it depends on how you look at the numbers:


What you see above is private-sector job growth of 67,000 that's offset by more than 100,000 census jobs ending, resulting in 54,000 jobs lost.

So on the one hand, we lost more than 50,000 jobs in August. Not good. But on the other hand, most of these jobs were fated to "go away" in any case. The 2010 Census was, by definition, a decennial phenomenon. Already, 225,000 Census workers exited, stage left, in June, and another 143,000 in July. Toss out the latest batch of pencil pushers from August, and we're left with only a 82,000-person overhang to deal with going forward -- a virtual guarantee that when the September jobs data rolls around, the "Census data" won't depress national jobs growth as much as it did for August. But on the third hand ...

The third hand?
Yes, in economics, there's no limit on the number of hands holding unwanted surprises. So on this third hand, let's not forget that America's a "growing boy," with a population that increases by the day. For the economy to just hold its unemployment rate steady, we need to add 125,000 new jobs every month. According to the BLS stats, we failed miserably at that goal in August.

And honestly, I'm not exactly sure why Wall Street is jumping for joy over even the 67,000 new private-sector hires. Fact is, that's below the trend of 72,000 new jobs being created monthly over the past four months. Buoyed by bullish manufacturing news, Ford (NYSE: F) and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) may be hiring. But the CEO at 3M (NYSE: MMM) says he's "cautious" and needs to "be absolutely certain that this isn't some temporary growth we see" before he follows suit. Meanwhile, over in the defense sector, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) are handing out pink slips as the Pentagon cracks the cost whip, and I hear General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) is about to start doing the same.

Foolish takeaway
Put it all together, and I remain skeptical of the health of this here economy of ours -- and of the market's recent bull run, both. To me, the numbers just don't support it.

But enough about me. Take the Foolish Rorschach test. Do you see something different in today's chart? Tell us about it below.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Rich is not a licensed economist, but he plays one on the Web. Check out his latest stock recommendations on Motley Fool CAPS. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

General Dynamics and 3M are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has established a bear put spread position on Caterpillar. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.