Diary

Measuring jobs "created or saved" by porkulus

First, before getting into the analysis of how the White House are miscounting job numbers, a few brief observations are in order:

  1. One, approximately 80% of the stimulus money that was an “emergency” to pass 9 months ago has still not come to term and been spent.  Since they apparently have all the sweet time in the world to spend this money, Congress owes it to the American people to cancel the remaining funds that are largely being used to fund liberal special interests and as a political war chest slush fund.  They can take the appropriate amount of time to debate the issue, in the public eye, with public debate, as they promised, and they should.
  2. When the White House starts accusing ABC, the same network which refused to broadcast any opposition to the White House health care push despite significant public interest and concerns on the issue of “calculator abuse” in the number of jobs created/saved, you know they are desperate.  That’d be like the New York Yankees accusing those in the Bronx of cheering for the Phillies in the World Series.  See http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/10/160000-per-stimulus-job-white-house-calls-that-calculator-abuse.html.
  3. Even if you were to accept the administration figure that it is $92,000 per job created, how exactly is that a good use of taxpayer funds?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost to an employer per job across the American economy is less than half of that.  See http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm.
  4. The Obama campaign promise was that this would CREATE five million jobs.  Then it was create or save five million.  Then it was create or save three million.  That’s in addition to those five million green jobs we were promised but seem to never have materialized.
  5. The White House method of counting these jobs seems to be to have the recipients of the money (who indicate on their applications for free money how many jobs will be saved) self-report the number of jobs created unless publicly challenged.  They assert we have to just trust the honesty of our public officials.  Besides the obvious problem of no objective measuring criteria and no transparency, it is not even public officials who are making these representations.  How could they not know that?  I mean, how many trillion dollar boondoggles do they have to keep track of?  (Okay, so maybe they do have a few others).
  6. Some of the jobs “created or saved” are temporary projects lasting not more than a month.  Some are not new jobs but 3% pay raises.  Some are rather low paying.  These stats should not continue to be ignored by those tracking the process.
  7. Its not too complicated to enter a line or two in a database and have a little bit of follow up each time we fork over millions or billions of taxpayer dollars.

Now, here are my proposed criteria for how stimulus jobs “created or saved” should be calculated to bring some objectivity to the process:

  1. Jobs that are of an inherently temporary nature should not be counted as a whole job created or saved.  If a job does not seem to have the prospect to last as a job in the economy for at least 10 years, it should be reduced to a pro rata value.  For example, if there are 240 construction positions they claim that each last an average of one month, that should be reduced to count as 2 jobs, not 240.  If they want to come back and say, hey, there’s value in even just temporary jobs, then let them have two measures – one on lasting economic impact and one for temporary impact.
  2. A second reduction needed in the figures is for jobs saved.  “Jobs saved” should be counted separately than “jobs created.”  Jobs saved should not be accepted merely on the representation of he/she who filled out the application for free federal money.  Rather, if a 3% raise is being applied towards 100 jobs, as it was in one instance, that should not count as more than 3 jobs being funded by the stimulus.  Even then, it should only count at all if it can be demonstrated those jobs would be lost otherwise. 
  3. In each instance where there are multiple sources of funding (including a business’s own cash flow) besides stimulus funds that are funding jobs, the number of jobs “created or saved” should be reduced to the pro rata amount funded by porkulus.