Stimulus Job Numbers, Supersized?

Posted on November 8, 2009

Back in February of this year, President Obama quickly signed the $787 billion stimulus bill in to law under the guise of creating jobs to help the economy.  At that time, the White House projected that this bill would create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.  

At the end of October, the White House claimed their stimulus package was on track to hit that 3.5 million mark as predicted because it had already “saved or created” 650,000 jobs.    In fact, White House economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, claimed that 1,000,000 jobs had been “saved or created” if jobs related to the tax cuts in the stimulus package were included.  

One million jobs “saved or created”?  Our unemployment rate has now hit 10.2%.   The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 17.5% unemployment when those who have given up the job search altogether, or those who have taken part-time work in lieu of a full time position, are included.    How can the claim made by the White House, that 1,000,000 jobs have been “saved or created” be correct?

As it turns out, the term “saved or created,” might not mean what you think it means.  As reported by the Associated Press via Breitbart:

The inflated job count is at least partly the product of the administration instructing local community agencies that received money to count the raises as jobs saved. (empahsis mine)

Instructions were given that anyone who received a raise from stimulus money was to be counted as a job “saved.”  This was the case, even if it wasn’t clear whether the job had been in jeopardy of being terminated.  In Georgia, a Head Start program reported that all their jobs were “saved” because everyone had received a raise. 

This seems to be the case with a number of other agencies as well:

Most of the inflated figures were like those cited in the 935 saved jobs reported by the Southwest Georgia Community Action in Moultrie, Ga. The agency, like hundreds of others collecting Head Start money, claimed all its existing employees’ jobs were saved because they received a pay raise with the stimulus cash.

In California, many jobs “saved” weren’t actually on the chopping block to start with.  From the Sacramento Bee:

Up to one-fourth of the 110,000 jobs reported as saved by federal stimulus money in California probably never were in danger, a Bee review has found.

California has benefitted the most for “saving” education related jobs at 25% of the total education related jobs saved in the nation.  The state has received  $5.1 billion.  New York is second with 28,500 education jobs saved, 9% of the nation’s total.

In fact, the majority of the jobs “saved” seem to have been in education:

The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.

On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.

But even though claims are made that teaching jobs are “saved,” the counting of these saved jobs isn’t exact.  From the same NY Times article:

Of course, counting jobs that were saved can be a squishier proposition than counting jobs that were created. Teachers have been laid off in some areas — and budget officials say that there would have been more layoffs without the stimulus money — but it is difficult to say with certainty how many teachers would have been laid off without that money.

Indiana, for example, reported saving or creating 13,232 education jobs with its stimulus money, but Cris Johnston, the director of the government efficiency division of the state budget office, said that it was difficult to say whether the state would have actually lost those jobs without the money.

“We can’t make the statement that they were created or retained,” Mr. Johnston said.

Although education has received the bulk of the relief with stimulus funds,  it is not the only industry to receive stimulus dollars and have a hard time accurately counting how many were spared termination. 

From the Associated Press via Breitbart:

The new stimulus report follows the administration’s admission that earlier counts of jobs credited to the stimulus were faulty. A review by the Associated Press found the government’s early report overstated thousands of jobs saved or created.

Despite White House promises that errors would be corrected, the latest stimulus job count still includes mistakes such as the ones discovered in the AP’s earlier sampling of contracts.

For example, the Palm Beach County, Fla., water department reported 57 meter readers, customer service representatives and other positions as part of two water projects. That got incorrectly doubled to 114.

And this:

And the new data appeared to include at least dozens of entries in which contractors listed the same number of jobs as created or saved on different projects, which suggested double- or triple-counting of the same workers used on all projects.

Determining the “saved or created” jobs seems to be a difficult task since there are numerous instances of miscounts and errors inflating the numbers.

Ed Morrissey has a thread on HotAir which not only discusses the inflated California job counts, but also the phony stimulus job numbers from eight other states.  

We were told that the stimulus money was to go to “shovel ready jobs,” not to give out raises to people who were not in jeopardy of losing their position.  I’m sure the stimulus money has helped retain some and even create a few new jobs, but nothing near the numbers being reported.

Posted in: Economy