White House Paints Better Picture on Stimulus Jobs Than Reality Proves
October 30, 2009
By Brett J. Blackledge & Matt Apuzzo
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, or one in six, 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.
_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.
_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.
_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.
There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.
The reporting problem could be magnified Friday when a much larger round of reports is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls.
But the White House promises many problems will be corrected in Friday’s report.
“I think you’ll see a pretty good degree of accuracy,” said Ed DeSeve, an Obama adviser helping to oversee the stimulus program.
DeSeve said the administration is aware of problems with the early data. Agencies have been working with businesses that received the money to correct mistakes. Other errors discovered by the public also will be corrected, he said.