Last week the Obama administration issued a report that attributed 640,000 "saved or created" jobs to spending authorized by the $787 billion stimulus package that Congress approved in February. "Although President Obama initially said that 90 percent of the jobs created by the stimulus program would be in the private sector," The New York Times notes, "the data suggests that well over half of the jobs claimed so far have been in the public sector." Indeed, most of the jobs cited in the report are public school positions, and "some school districts said that they might not have actually laid off teachers without the stimulus money." The Times is too polite to add that the rest of the school districts—the ones that claim they're sure these jobs would have been cut but for the federal money—are lying. Counterfactual assumptions about teacher jobs may be the biggest source of uncertainty in the report, but it is by no means the funniest. Consider:
- The report claims the purchase of a $1,000 lawn mower to cut grass at the Fayetteville National Cemetery in Arkansas saved or created 50 jobs.
- "Many Head Start programs reported saving the jobs of employees who in fact had simply been given raises with stimulus money."
- "A $7,960 contract for a 'Basketball System Replacement' in Ohio claimed three jobs."
- A sewer project in Douglas County, Wisconsin, somehow has created 100 jobs, even though it hasn't begun yet.
- "C3T Construction Co., a general contracting company in Milwaukee, listed 24 jobs retained for projects on which no work had begun and no stimulus money had been received."
- "Owners at five Section 8 housing complexes in Madison and Milwaukee reported saving 38 jobs with more than $540,000 in additional rental assistance for low-income residents, though they acknowledged no new jobs were created."
- "A Kentucky shoe store reported that it had created nine jobs with an $890 order for work boots."
If you've come across other striking examples of fudging or fraud in the job report, point them out in the comments.