AP: Administration overstated stimulus jobs

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration finally got around to documenting the number of jobs “saved or created” by Porkulus thus far … and came up with a whopping 30,083 jobs.  Even that, as it turns out, was greatly inflated.  The AP does the math that the White House was apparently too incompetent to do itself and discovers that 5,000 of those “saved or created” jobs were created, all right — out of someone’s imagination:

An early progress report on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.

The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

Read the AP’s specifics on how the numbers went askew.  My personal favorite?  A Florida day-care center claimed to have saved 129 jobs, but the stimulus money went instead to raises for all of its employees.  Do many day-care centers employ 129 people?  How difficult would it have been to double-check the payroll figures?  After all, the company has to report income to the IRS, doesn’t it?

The White House claimed that it has corrected “virtually all” of the errors the AP uncovered, as well as others they also found.  However, the Recovery.gov site still uses the 30,083 figure.  More numbers will come tomorrow, when states file their reports and more jobs “saved or created” get calculated.  Will White House math improve?

And this is almost an obligatory observation, but this display of carelessness and incompetence on numbers that already looked bad undermines any effort this administration makes in fiscal leadership.  Not that underestimating the ten-year deficit growth by over 22% (and over two trillion dollars) didn’t already make that case, but those are numbers so large that most people don’t feel a rational connection to them.  On the other hand, anyone working for a living understands the difference betwen 25,000 and 30,000.  This White House obviously doesn’t.

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