Calculating Jobs a Muddled Mess – Press Presents it as Fact

The White House continues to throw out random numbers in their quest to convince the public that their behemoth stimulus bill is saving jobs at a massive rate.  The confusion has even seeped into the President's biggest support group - the media.

CNN recently announced how the stimulus plan funded nearly 600,000 jobs this past quarter.  In their article, which parrots the numbers provided by the administration's Recovery.gov Web site, CNN hints that these figures may actually be low, in that they do not include jobs created 'indirectly' (emphasis mine throughout):

"It does not tally jobs created indirectly through companies buying supplies for stimulus projects, people spending their tax cuts, increased unemployment benefits and the like."

Would adding the number of indirect jobs have provided a boost to the stimulus numbers?

Not quite, according to a source CNN can likely trust - themselves...

Two days prior to the above article, CNN ran a piece about the nation's first stimulus project, in which they similarly define indirect jobs as being created in the following manner:

"...supplying the steel, pouring the concrete and boosting the local community's economy."

However, the article points out that federal officials had estimated that the project would create 220 of these indirect jobs.  This despite a statement from agricultural economist, Michael Sykuta, who surmises "that a single construction job normally spins off two or perhaps three indirect jobs at most."

An expert claims that 3 jobs are created indirectly at most, and the feds somehow estimate 220 - a mere increase of over 7,000%.  Embellish much?

Thus, reporting of the addition of indirect jobs created or saved is nearly as futile an effort as calculating those directly created or saved. 

Case in point, the numbers being touted by that first stimulus project.  In it, the administration provides an educated guess of 30 jobs created.  Now the Recovery.gov site is using a mathematical formula to determine that the project created or saved 24.69 jobs.  But the contractor involved in the project estimates that the number of jobs saved was 10.

Review that last paragraph for a moment.  Not only are the numbers trending downward, but the terminology involved is designed to drive the numbers upward.  Here is the transformation simplified:  30 created → 24.69 created or saved → 10 saved.

All of this is moot really, as the AP has already reported that tracking jobs created or saved via the new White House method would be impossible.  Impossible.  So why would the media report these dishonest job announcements from the White House, touting calculations that have already been proven an impossible mathematical feat?

Making things even more confusing are that the 600,000 jobs cited for this quarter are actually inflated by including jobs from the previous quarter.  As the AP reported:

"Recipients of recovery money no longer have to show that a job would have been lost without the stimulus help, and they no longer are required to keep an ongoing tally of jobs saved or created. The new rules allow stimulus recipients to limit the job tally to quarterly reports, making it impossible to avoid double-counting a job that was created in one quarter and continued into the next."

Furthermore, the quarterly job report mentions nearly 600,000 jobs funded, coinciding with the AP report that the calculations will no longer count jobs saved or created, but only jobs funded.  Yet, the White House Web site continues the dishonest theme by continuing to list them as jobs 'created'.

Created, saved, funded.  Double-counting directly or indirectly created jobs. 

The Obama administration's smoke and mirrors tactics continue.  Change they should be embarrassed by...

Photo Credit:  Cleveland Plain Dealer