Why, I thought the White House had abandoned the “saved or created” mythology! Apparently, they’ve only abandoned having to account for how they get the numbers. The Washington Post reports that despite having their earlier number of 640,000 torn to shreds by the Associated Press and media outlets around the nation, the Obama administration has now tripled down on jobs saved or created:
The $787 billion economic stimulus package has created or saved between 1.7 million and 2 million jobs, but its impact on the economy ebbed slightly in the final quarter of 2009 compared with prior months, the White House said Tuesday night.
Releasing the administration’s second quarterly report to Congress on the stimulus’s impact, Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said a third of the tax cuts and spending in the package is out the door. Her office estimates that the stimulus added between 1.5 and 3 percentage points to the growth in gross domestic product in the final quarter of 2009. That estimate, which is in line with other analyses, is lower than her office’s estimate of stimulus-related impact in the third quarter, between 3 and 4 percentage points.
Administration officials said often last year that the stimulus’s impact would be felt more over time as spending ramped up, but Romer said in a conference call with reporters that the drop-off in GDP impact was not unexpected. The biggest jolt to the GDP came with the first big surge of spending over the summer, she said, and job creation is now following.
Er, what? The economy lost 85,000 jobs in December, numbers announced less than a week ago. Job creation isn’t following — it’s not happening at all, as the BLS numbers clearly showed.
Let’s put up yesterday’s chart of total jobs over the last 10 years to make this clear:
With the exception of a bump of 4,000 jobs in November — temporary work — there hasn’t been any job creation at all. For eighteen months, the rate of job destruction has remained constant, as the slope of the drop on this chart shows, bottoming out with November’s numbers and dropping again last month. Where in any of the established metrics of employment at BLS does it show net job creation?
The White House either is living in a fantasy world, or it thinks we are. Unfortunately, that fantasy is George Orwell’s 1984.
Update: Er, jobs, not dollars. Don’t write headlines before having first cup of coffee.