Conn Carroll at Heritage’s Foundry blog breaks down the stimulus spin from the White House today:
The Obama administration released the first hard numbers on how many jobs their $787 billion stimulus package has created or saved on Recovery.gov today. The number: 30,383 jobs from roughly $16 billion worth of stimulus contracts awarded directly by federal agencies.
Crunching the numbers, that comes to $533,000 per job “saved or created.” To put those 30,383 jobs in perspecitve, consider that the U.S. economy lost 263,000 net jobs just last month and has lost 3.6 million net jobs since President Barack Obama was sworn into office.
But the administration also claims that federal contractor spending is just one portion of the overall stimulus “buckshot.” Last month at the Brookings Institute, Vice President Joe Biden claimed that White House computer models showed their stimulus plan had already saved between 500,000 and 750,000. And just how accurate are these White House economic models? Well, when the White House was pitching its plan to the American people, White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein wrote a report claiming the stimulus would keep unemployment under a peak of 8%. And what have actual Bureau of Labor and Statistics shown? A a 26-year record high of 9.8% unemployment rate.
Gaffes in federal reports this week about stimulus have called into question the government’s ability to accurately track how many jobs are being created by the massive $787 billion Recovery Act.
The data in Thursday’s reports were filled with mistakes, including an error that made it look like a French vaccine maker received the largest stimulus contract, $1.4 billion, when in fact it has gotten an award one-100th the size.
Government research organization OMB Watch said its assessment of the reports revealed many inconsistencies in the job data.
“The data is rife with mistakes,” said Craig Jennings, senior federal fiscal policy analyst at OMB Watch. “When you put out data that hasn’t yet been checked, it undermines transparency, because you are putting out wrong information.”
…A mistake in the very first contract listed on the site prompted doubts about the reliability of the reports.
Recovery.gov erroneously reported Thursday that French vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur had received $1.4 billion in stimulus funds from the Department of Health and Human Services. The company topped the site’s list titled “Largest federal contracts in U.S.”
When CNNMoney.com first asked about the contract Thursday, a spokeswoman from Sanofi Pasteur suspected the $1.4 billion figure was a mistake. HHS spokeswoman Vicki Rivas-Vazquez said the number on recovery.gov was erroneous and the actual amount was $10.4 million.
Sanofi Pasteur said Friday that $10.4 million is the correct figure.
“We anticipated errors in the reporting and so informed many reporters beforehand,” said Edward Pound, spokesman for the Recovery Board. “This is the first time this kind of reporting is being done. These reports are being reviewed by federal agencies and recipients to catch any errors or problems.”
The Recovery Board has the tall task of compiling all of the data, and is spending $18 million revamping its Web site to manage all of the information.
OMB Watch said its review yielded “really weird job numbers,” including many discrepancies within the reports themselves. For instance, Jennings said OMB Watch found that many companies said in a narrative portion of their reports that it was able to retain several employees because of stimulus funds, but the “jobs created” column read “zero.”
The Recovery Board aggregates its jobs data from the “jobs created” column to display the total number of jobs saved or created. Jennings speculated that recipients might have been confused about the scope of the term “created.”
“I would not stake any sort of claims on those job numbers,” said Jennings. “We don’t know what’s going on there.”