When you spend $787 billion, there's a lot of pressure to show results. So, there's no surprise that success is being proclaimed across the country. States are saying that they've used the federal stimulus package money to create or save more than 388,000 jobs this year. Teachers, construction workers and other professions have realized the upside of stimulus cash according to reports from 33 states and Puerto Rico, with the remainder of the results being released on Friday.
Of course, the numbers "should be taken with a grain of salt," says Ethan Pollack of the Economic Policy Institute. The states were tasked to count the jobs created or protected, but the results have been of dubious accuracy. This doesn't mean the stats can't provide fodder to people on both sides of the aisle.
Columbia Business School's Frank Lichtenberg says the data shows a solid economic impact, and the Obama administration's Council of Economic Advisors believes the stimulus spending has taken care of between 600,000 and 1.1 million jobs.
And, there are those who disagree.
Kevin Hassett, who used to be an economic advisor to the Bush administration (Bush II, that is), says the reports "vastly overstate" the positions saved or made. He continues that the United States would have lost more than the 2.7 million jobs recorded since March without the spending, but he says "how many is impossible to know."
Federal contractors got a bit of a lift – to the tune of 30,000 jobs. But, the action has been in the schools. More than 156,000 jobs have been kept alive in schools in 23 of the states that reported. In California, 20,000 teaching jobs were saved, with another 13,000 school gigs protected in Indiana.