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The unemployment rate hit 9.4 percent last month—a 26 year high. 111 days after the passage of the stimulus bill $43.7 billion of it has been spent while over 2 million jobs have been lost. Today the president announced that they will accelerate the rate of spending and save or create 600,000 jobs over the next hundred days.
The number of jobs saved or created is extremely difficult to calculate. We can say with some certainty that 2 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus package was passed, but it’s virtually impossible to say with certainty that 150,000 jobs have been created or saved so far. It’s equally difficult to claim that 600,000 will be saved or created.
So when the president said his stimulus bill “already saved or created” those jobs, he was just giving an estimate produced by his own economic advisers at the White House. Furthermore, the jobs figure is based on projections done at the time ARRA was passed. Recipients of ARRA spending aren’t required to report until later what they’re doing with the money and how well it’s working, so there’s very little hard data on where the money is being spent, let alone how many jobs may have resulted from the legislation. The CEA incorporated some actual spending reports into its estimate, but that information is not complete.
Congress and the president have created another government program that cannot be accurately evaluated. When Congress chooses to spend taxpayer money in the future, they should strongly consider including methods to evaluate the programs effectiveness and eliminate it if it fails.
Check out this graph put together by the House Republican Conference that displays the number of unemployed since February:
The display of the numbers is misleading (there is no scale on the Y axis), but the data and quotes are interesting.