NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2009

An early progress report on President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.

The government's first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money.  But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press (AP) review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

  • A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.
  • A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.
  • A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There's no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report , says the AP.  But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president's promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.

The reporting problem could be magnified when a much larger round of reports is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls, says the AP.

Source: Brett J. Blackledge and Matt Apuzzo, "Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands," Associated Press/, October 30, 2009.

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