Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Math Doesn't Add Up

The Obama Administration has touted that it has created tens of thousands of jobs through the stimulus program.

The problem is that the Administration's claims don't hold up to even modest scrutiny.

All around the country, reports have evaluated the claims from the Administration and how many jobs were created in states, and each time the Administration's claims come up short.

The New York Post ran the numbers for the state. They aren't encouraging, even assuming the most favorable numbers for the Administration.
The feds and the city are using some funny math to inflate the number of jobs created by the $787 billion stimulus program so far -- with the tally including thousands of brief, low-wage summer jobs for youths.

New reports just released by the Obama administration claim New York state has "created/saved" 40,625 jobs -- including 25,526 in the city.

A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg told The Post that the city had "created" 3,000 jobs and that the rest represented already employed teachers and other city employees who faced possible layoffs without the federal "shot in the arm."

The spokesman could not immediately give a breakdown of what the new jobs entailed. But a memo issued by Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler suggested the number of stable new jobs was under 300.

The memo had a footnote explaining that the city used a formula required by the feds to count 2,882 "full-time-equivalent" as created jobs.

That number was based on 19,518 youths who took part in a summer employment program, Skyler said. The seven-week program paid minimum wage -- less than $8 per hour -- for residents age 14 to 24 to work in local businesses, public facilities and nonprofit groups and included some training, officials said.

"The calculation methodology does not necessarily reflect the actual number of individuals employed as a result of the stimulus," Skyler explained.

Stimulus-funded construction projects have generated few new jobs, other reports show. For a $175 million project to repair ferry ramps in Staten Island, the city cites 4.17 jobs through Sept. 30.
But the math woes in New York don't compare with the fact that states with the worst unemployment getting the fewest jobs created. That's the case in Michigan.

Utah's numbers don't add up.
A crew from Henderson Builders is about a week away from finishing the $850,000 resurfacing project, which the Moab company reported has saved or created 25 jobs.

But the actual count is fewer than eight.
It's all about double and triple counting jobs, and associating jobs that would have existed regardless of any federal assistance.

Meanwhile, Florida claims that the numbers provided by the feds underestimates the true number of jobs created. Washington State claims that 30,000 jobs were created in state, the majority of which are education related. Does this mean that they've got more teachers or that the student-teacher ratio reflects fewer students per teacher, or is it simply sleight of hand where the feds paid money to teachers who were going to be on the state books in any event? More to the point, will any of those jobs exist once the federal funds run out? That too is doubtful. Other papers in the state noticed, and found that more than 24,000 of those jobs were never in any doubt.
State officials used a chunk of stimulus money to cover paychecks for 24,000 teachers who were already contracted to finish out the school year. That money came from a pot of stimulus funds given to the state to help offset budget cuts.

Without that funding, the money to pay the teachers would have come out of the state general fund, said Jill Satran, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s main adviser on stimulus projects.

That would have meant cuts elsewhere, Satran said, but the job losses that would have resulted from such cuts is difficult to quantify. Few, if any, of the 24,000 teacher jobs would have been among them, Satran said.

“It would not have likely come from those teachers,” Satran said Friday. “Somewhere along the way, we would have had to make some really dramatic cuts or looked at other options.”
All of this still doesn't excuse the continuing use of the nonsensical metric of jobs saved; a metric invented out of whole cloth that allows the Administration to claim that they've done more than they actually have, and the fact that the economy as a whole has continued shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month since the stimulus package was passed.

The Administration has been pushing a meme that but for the stimulus, the job losses would have been even worse, but that wears thin when month after month the job losses pile up and people are discouraged from looking for jobs because of the bleak economic environment. Coincidentally, the discouraged workers fall out of the regularly used metric for unemployment, keeping the rate lower than the true tale of unemployment in the nation.

Fuzzy math, wobbly logic, and hundreds of billions that have gone by the boards with limited effect. That's the sum total of the stimulus package, and yet we're supposed to believe that the stimulus worked because the Administration continues using inflated numbers and bogus statistics?

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