Friday, July 31, 2009

Jobs "estimates" reach new heights of Tom Foolery

The Obama administration has tried to keep a collective straight face when talking about "saved" jobs while knowing full well that any such "estimates" are fantasies at best and con games at worst.

Even the number of actual jobs created are being wildly over estimated as pro publica points out.

As we’ve reported before, figuring out how many jobs the stimulus has created or saved is one of the key measures of its success — and a tricky business.

The committee touted its estimate in a news release in advance of a hearing today on the progress of stimulus projects. The chairman, James Oberstar, D-Minn., said the stimulus has “already begun to play a key role in putting people back to work.” The release credited stimulus transportation projects with 49,377 jobs.

Jim Berard, spokesman for the House panel, said the estimate simply reflects what states reported. “We’re not trying to mislead anybody,” Berard said.

The committee reached its total by adding up the number of people who’ve worked on stimulus-funded highway or transit projects. Last week, we reported on the problems with simple head counts.

Besides failing to distinguish between part-time and full-time jobs, head counts are subject to another error: Construction workers often rotate among projects, which can lead to double- or triple-counting when project totals are added together. State workers who oversee multiple projects also can be counted more than once.