White House: Stimulus Creates Nearly 600,000 New Jobs

Brian A. Shactman|CNBC Reporter
Stimulus Scorecard

The counting rules have changed.

The total number of jobs has changed.

But it’s doubtful that the pockets of people criticizing Recovery Act recipient jobs reporting will change their message.

From more than 160,000 reports, the Recovery Boardreported late Saturday that from October through December, 599,108 jobs had been directly created by stimulus money.

The jobs come from money awarded through contracts, grants and loans, however, it must be noted that more than 80-percent of the reports are from outright government grants.

For perspective, these jobs are derived from about $54 billion in spending, according to the Administration, and as the White House pointed out Saturday, that is “only” about one-fifth of all spending and tax relief doled out in 2009. For context, the total value of the Recovery Act, including entitlements and tax cuts, is well over $800-billion (It used to be $787 billion but the government recently increased the number).

“These reports, which provide a snapshot of the impact of a small portion of funds, are yet another indication that the Recovery Act is on-track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“Since this is a partial survey based on reports filed by recipients, we know it’s not perfect or complete,” said the Vice President. “But it is providing a level of detail about a government program that has never before been made available to the public.”

The 599,108 number is below the 640,000 number from the first reporting period, which was widely criticized for discrepancies. The Recovery Board, and the White House, admitted that the self-reporting process would yield errors and have tried to eliminate the more embarrassing errors such as phantom jobs in phantom districts and lawnmower purchases reportedly creating dozens of municipal jobs.

In addition, the manner of counting was changed late last year when the White House Office of Management and Budget mandated that ANY job that had a salary funded, in ANY magnitude, be counted. There is no longer a distinction between a job “created” and a job “saved”.

The counting formulas still work within full-time equivalents of 40-hours per week. For example, two 20-hour a week part-time jobs created by Recovery Act money would count as a single job in the reporting process. Indirect job creation remains outside of these reports.

Even though a significant amount of money has been awarded all across the United States – and created thousands of jobs – a large portion of the awarded money has yet to be received -- or spent.

In California, more than $21-billion has been awarded since President Obama signed the stimulus package into law. Through December, about $8 billion had been received.

For the October-December period, California reported about 71,000 jobs.

In New York, $12.5 billion in awards has yielded about $2 billion in spending and 43,000 jobs in this latest report.

Some hiring has taken place even before the money has been received as operations ramp up in anticipation, but it also signifies that -- at least in the early part of 2010 -- there remains quite a bit of an economic jolt left from the Recovery Act.

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