If Measured by the Retention Rate of Lousy Teachers Then Yes, the Stimulus Was a Success


Over at Big Government last week, Reason columnist and Contributing Editor Veronique De Rugy did one of the things she does best: create a chart to bum us out. Here 'tis:


In this chart, I compare seasonally adjusted unemployment rates across segments of the economy, dividing these segments using the super-categories designated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The chart compares the unemployment rates in January of 2009 (blue) with the unemployment rates in these same sectors a year later (yellow). (FYI, the difference would be even more dramatic if I had used not seasonally adjusted data)

In both years, the unemployment rate within the government has been small relative to the level of unemployment within the entire economy, and particularly so relative to the private sector.   In the course of a year, government employment has decreased by 296,000 jobs to 4.3% unemployment; during the same period, employment in the private, non-agricultural, sector has decreased by 2.3 million jobs to 11.1%. (And if you look at not seasonally adjusted unemployment data, the lose of private jobs reached 3.1 million and the lose of public jobs is roughly 70,000. That's quite a gap.)

De Rugy has more in this vein over at National Review's The Corner, in rebuttal to stimulus-lovin' California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Schwarzenegger added, "I have been the first…of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money because I say to myself, 'This is terrific,' and anyone that says that it hasn't created a job, they should talk to the 150,000 people that have been getting jobs in California."

But when the interviewer asked him whether these jobs were created in the private sector, he paused and said something uncertain like "Yes, private and public sector jobs."

Well, not exactly. Based on the Recovery.gov data, we can see that half of the stimulus money went to the Department of Education (make sure you go to page 10 and stare at those Advance Beauty College Inc. grants).

Seems pretty simple to me. When you take taxpayer money and use it to back-fill public employee pensions and blown-out state budgets, that means the few are profiting at the expense of the many, even though the few have done very little to demonstrate that they are more worthy (quite the opposite, actually). The tension between the haves and the have-nots in this case is both unaffordable fiscally and unsustainable politically. Something has to give, and soon.

Reason on the stimulus here. De Rugy's Reason archive here.