Phantom jobs, phantom districts, phantom zip-codes, and now a phantom recovery 

Pro Publica reports that the Obama administration will begin posting quarterly job numbers instead of counting the cumulative number of jobs "created or saved" by the stimulus package. Given the massive errors in counting the jobs so far -- with a fairly haphazard search, we identified nearly 100,000 jobs "created or saved" that don't really exist -- this development may seem unsurprising.

The new rules came out last month in a little-noticed memo sent to federal agencies by Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget. OMB said it changed the guidelines to prevent the kinds of errors and confusion that occurred when the first job counts came out in October.

With no signs of improvement in the employment situation, the pressure on the administration to produce job-creation propaganda remains immense. So the administration's new guidelines include loosening of what qualifies as a reportable job.

Hence the concerns by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, who on Jan. 8 wrote's Inspector General, Earl Devaney:

The Administration's original guidance defined a job "created" as "a new position created and filled or an existing unfilled position that is filled as a result of the Recovery Act." Similarly, the original guidance instructed recipients to count a job as "saved" if it "would not have been continued to be filled were it not for Recovery Act funding.") However, the new guidance counts every job that is funded using stimulus money -- even if it existed before the Recovery Act, and was not in any danger of being eliminated -- as "created or saved. This definition ignores the plain meanings of the words "created" and "saved," and makes's "JOBS CREATED/SAVED" label a falsehood, further eroding the confidence of the American people in their government.

For instance, as the new guidance itself elaborates, a library that begins paying two pre-existing full-time librarians with Recovery Act funds must count two additional Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) toward the overall job totals, even though the two workers were not hired as a result of the Recovery Act, and regardless of whether their jobs were ever in danger.

Expect a serious acceleration of job creation in the coming quarters.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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