The most recent data released by the White House says that the $787 billion federal stimulus program has created or saved 640,000 jobs—more than half of them in the nation's schools. Adding employment from money spent on aid to states and unemployment benefits brings the tally to 1 million jobs, according to the administration. Did the stimulus really save 1 million jobs, and, if so, is that enough? (Watch commentary on whether the stimulus plan saved and created jobs)
The stimulus created jobs, but we need more: The economic stimulus "is working just about the way textbook macroeconomics said it would," says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Its effects build over time, and soon the number of jobs saved will rise to 3 million. Unfortunately, "the same textbook analysis says that the stimulus was far too small given the scale of our economic problems."
"Too little of a good thing"
You can't trust the White House numbers: The Obama administration is trying "to spin the tepid job creation" sparked by the stimulus into an economic success, say the editors of The Detroit News. But the Associated Press checked the White House figures and found "numerous exaggerations, duplicate counts, and outright misstatements." Obama owes taxpayers an honest accounting—"policy should be based on real numbers, not propaganda."
"Editorial: $230,000 per job"
The numbers are believable but not impressive: The White House is bragging about these 640,000 jobs, says Daniel Indiviglio in The Atlantic, but the numbers is not very impressive if you do the math. It means we spent $230,000 to create each job. "That seems kind of expensive to me," especially since "this is a virtual blip compared to the vast population" of 15 million unemployed Americans.
"The stimulus saved 650,000 jobs? I'm not impressed."
The 'jobs saved' number doesn't matter: It means nothing to say that Obama and the stimulus saved 640,000 jobs, or 1 million, says Edward P. Lazear in The Wall Street Journal. What matters is the net jobs gain—which is lower, assuming that some of the people who got the stimulus-created positions left old jobs that went unfilled. So look at the number that matters—the unemployment rate, which is 9.8 percent—and you get a more accurate, and gloomier, picture of where we stand after all that stimulus spending.
"Stimulus and the jobless recovery"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Behind the newest attempt to get the Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How to be charismatic, according to science
Subscribe to the Week