Despite mounting a vigorous defense of its earlier count of more than 640,000 jobs credited to the stimulus, even after numerous errors were identified, the Obama administration now is making it easier to give the stimulus credit for hiring. It's no longer about counting a job as saved or created; now it's a matter of counting jobs funded by the stimulus.The new figures don't tell you whether a job was created or not; only that federal funds from the ARRA of 2009 (the stimulus package aka porkfest) were used to fund that job. So, if a particular job was going to be funded regardless of whether the federal government was going to provide the funding, it will be counted in this new metric.
That means that any stimulus money used to cover payroll will be included in the jobs credited to the program, including pay raises for existing employees and pay for people who never were in jeopardy of losing their positions.
The new rules, quietly published last month in a memorandum to federal agencies, mark the White House's latest response to criticism about the way it counts jobs credited to the stimulus. When The Associated Press first reported flaws in the job counts in October, the White House said errors were being corrected and future counts would provide a full and correct accounting of just how many stimulus jobs were saved or created.
Numbers published last month identified more than 640,000 jobs linked to stimulus projects around the country. The White House said the public could have confidence in those new numbers, which officials argued proved the administration was on track to keep Obama's promise that the stimulus would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year.
But more errors were found, with tens of thousands of problems documented in corrected counts, from the substantive to the clerical. Republicans have used those flaws to attack what so far is the signature domestic policy approved during Obama's presidency.
The new rules are intended to streamline the process, said Tom Gavin, spokesman for the White House's Office of Management and Budget. They came in response to grant recipients who complained the reporting was too complicated, from lawmakers who complained the job counts were inconsistent and from watchdog groups who complained the information was unreliable, Gavin said.
What this shows is that the Obama Administration still doesn't get it when it comes to jobs. They have all but abandoned the idea that the stimulus package created jobs at all - and the 10% unemployment rate (which is significantly undercounting the real number because the BLS is stripping those who are no longer receiving benefits and no longer looking for jobs from the unemployment figures and therefore reducing the size of the labor force to make the unemployment rate look more favorable) is testament to the ongoing problems with job creation. The road projects touted by the Administration as a way to create jobs didn't.
It's little wonder that the public isn't buying into the Administration's job creation efforts; they're simply smoke and mirrors.