Educators are the largest group of affected workers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 650,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, the government said Friday, and the White House declared the nation on track to meet the president’s goal of 3.5 million by the end of next year.
New job numbers from businesses, contractors, state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities were released, showing 640,329 positions credited to the stimulus, according to the independent federal board monitoring the program’s progress.
Teachers and other education employees represent the largest number of jobs in the report — about 325,000. With state budgets in crisis, federal aid helped governors avoid major cuts in education, which officials said spared many teachers and school workers from the unemployment line.
But Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, voicing the skepticism of many critics, has warned about putting too much stock in claims that the stimulus saved that many jobs. Chris Johnston, who oversees Indiana’s stimulus spending for Daniels, said Friday the state reported under the stimulus requirements that 13,000 teaching jobs were created or saved. But he’s not sure whether any of those people actually would have been laid off.
“I think that’s a hypothetical. I’m not sure we can say one way or another,” Johnston said.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said “it’s bewildering” to see the Obama administration’s job-creation claims when 3 million jobs have been lost since Congress approved the program.
The new stimulus report follows the administration’s admission that earlier counts of jobs credited to the stimulus were faulty. A review by the Associated Press found the government’s early report overstated thousands of jobs saved or created.
Despite White House promises that errors would be corrected, the latest stimulus job count still includes mistakes such as the ones discovered in the AP’s earlier sampling of contracts.
For example, the Palm Beach County, Fla., water department reported 57 meter readers, customer service representatives and other positions as part of two water projects. That got incorrectly doubled to 114.
Some agencies that received stimulus money continue to report saving jobs, despite using the money for employee pay raises.
And the new data appeared to include at least dozens of entries in which contractors listed the same number of jobs as created or saved on different projects, which suggested double- or triple-counting of the same workers.