The return of lies, damned lies and stimulus jobs 

The hits keep on coming. First we have a report from Washington state:

New numbers released by the federal government Friday estimate that the federal stimulus package has helped create or save 34,500 total jobs in Washington, making it the state with the third-largest reported number of stimulus jobs behind California and New York.

But there’s a caveat on those job creation numbers: 24,000 of them probably weren’t in danger in the first place.

State officials used a chunk of stimulus money to cover paychecks for 24,000 teachers who were already contracted to finish out the school year. That money came from a pot of stimulus funds given to the state to help offset budget cuts.

Then there's newly uncovered job counting shenanigans in Colorado. The Denver Post reports that of the 8,094 jobs the administration claims were created in the centennial state the number is inflated by "at least 1,000." But more troubling, the Denver Post uncovered a plethora of problems that suggest the job overcounting is a matter of practice rather than isolated mistakes:

• Englewood-based TeleTech Government Solutions listed the equivalent of 635 full-time jobs credited to Colorado created by recovery funds used to set up call centers on the conversion to digital television. Only the equivalent of 34 of them were filled in Colorado. The rest are scattered across the country.

• The city of Westminster reported that its $150,438 contract for road work on Lowell Boulevard would create 117 jobs. That would equate to $1,286 per job. The city said the estimate is based on anyone who will work on the project, even if it was for only one day. No federal officials told the city to convert to the number of full-time-equivalent slots, an official said.

• Two child-development centers — one in Colorado Springs and the other in Saguache County — reported they had created or saved more than 292 jobs combined. However, the money — totaling about $650,000, or $2,226 a job — was used to give employees cost- of-living raises. Only three new jobs were created.

• Some subsidized-housing projects listed their entire staffs as jobs retained as a result of stimulus spending even if the money was the same rental assistance for their tenants they had received in previous years. Combined, they could total as many as 200 jobs.

Also, see David Freddoso's post this morning about questionable stimulus job numbers in Massachusetts. That brings the total to 13 states where stimulus job numbers appear to have been fudged -- Washington, Colorado, Massachussetts, Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia and Texas.

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Mark Hemingway

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