The Administration's Latest Job Claims: Be Skeptical

Based on the thin slice of government data that's being reported today -- and, let's face it, based on the propensity of those in power to portray their own data in its rosiest light, it's wise to be skeptical of the administration's latest claims about the stimulus and the jobs it has created or saved. One would think that, having made projections about jobs that turned out not to be true, the administration would refrain from jawboning.

The Recovery Board says today that 30,383 jobs have been created or saved off of $16 billion disbursed in federal contracts from agencies. That's about five percent of the stimulus money officially disbursed so far.  Extrapolating a bit, the administration says that the stimulus package saved a million jobs over the course of seven months. A Recovery Act aide does the math:

·         Reports posted today represent 5% of the money and show 30,000 DIRECT jobs

·         So 100% would indicate about 600,000 DIRECT jobs

·         For each direct job, we believe there is one indirect job

·         So about 600,000 DIRECT JOBS leads to another 600,000 INDIRECT JOBS

·         For a total equivalent of about 1.2 million TOTAL JOBS

It's worth pointing out that the government doesn't yet have job data from those entities to whom its given money. At the same time, the $16 billion figure refers to new federal contracts only -- and not (as a CBS News producer has pointed out) to the money that's been given out in the form of grants and loans.

"All signs -- from private estimates to this fragmentary data -- point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the Vice President's chief economist, in a statement. "We look forward to the much larger, comprehensive report due on October 30th." The Veep, incidentally, is in St. Louis, MO today and will reference the 1 million figure.