The stimulus has saved or created about 30,000 private sector jobs in its first few months, according to an independent report. Earlier this year, the Council of Economic Advisers projected the stimulus would save 1 million total jobs through August. Are these numbers completely incompatible?


My first instinct on seeing this report was that it would be a public relations disaster for the Obama administration because, as a brief calculation will demonstrate, 30,000 is somewhat less than 1,000,000. But the details reveal a more complicated picture. First this doesn't represent the total impact of the stimulus. The report only looked at federal funds allocated, not the billions of dollars of tax credit. And the 30K jobs created reflect the impact of only $16 billion awarded to (and $2 billion spent by) private contractors in infrastructure. As we've known since January, infrastructure spending represents a sliver of the stimulus package and has actually been spent decently quickly.

Also the 30K figure doesn't include the impact of this graph below, which breaks down exactly how early stimulus money was used to save state Medicaid budgets, plug up deficits and protect state government jobs:

stimulusbreakdown.png
More broadly, it's a good thing for public policy (if not the Obama administration) that we're counting the actual and not merely theoretical jobs created or saved by the stimulus money. Obama has promised that the stimulus package would save about 3 million jobs by the end of 2010. It's important that we have independent reports trying to measure private sector job creation to audit those promises.

But this I don't understand:

Colorado-based contractors reported 4,695 jobs created or saved, the most of any state, from around $550 million of stimulus money awarded, of which $48 million has been spent. Contractors in Michigan, the state with the highest unemployment, reported just 397 jobs created or saved.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is supposedly a pro at working the levers of government to rake in federal money. It seems impossible to me that with the government, after ushering the Big Three automakers through near or actual bankruptcy, failed to "save or create" more than a tenth of the jobs in Michigan that it did in Colorado, a state with half Michigan's population.

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