White House: Stimulus funded 3 million jobs

chart_romer5.top.jpg By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Despite groans from Republicans about high unemployment and the growing national deficit, President Obama's administration continues to say the $787 billion stimulus is working.

In its latest stimulus report released Wednesday, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers said the Recovery Act has already saved or created about 3 million jobs.

That's in line with earlier predictions from Christina Romer, chairwoman of the CEA, who has said since the beginning of the Recovery Act that the stimulus would save a total of 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

The CEA uses two different models, which estimate the number of jobs to be between 2.5 million and 3.6 million, meaning Romer's target may have already been reached.

But the administration's figures are highly criticized by some economists and Republicans in Congress who point out it's derived from mathematical formulas, not an actual headcount of people who've received jobs funded by stimulus money.

"The 3.5 million is a mystical, whimsical number that comes out of models that rest on extremely rosy projections," said Veronique de Rugy, an economist with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

She said the actual number of jobs created by stimulus is likely much lower than the Administration reports.

"The administration's new stimulus jobs 'saved and created' claim lacks a basis in reality," said Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who also pointed to the unemployment rate, which currently stands at 9.5%.

In January 2009, Romer predicted that the stimulus, if passed, would keep the unemployment rate around 7% at the end of 2010. Congress signed the act into law a month after Romer's report.

The administration has since revised its outlook to 9.8% unemployment for the end of the year.

Summer of Recovery?

The Obama administration is pushing the stimulus hard ahead of midterm elections, calling this the "Summer of Recovery." The government paid out the largest chunk of stimulus funds so far in the second quarter of 2010, to the tune of $116.3 billion -- which includes both spending on projects and tax cuts to businesses, Wednesday's stimulus report said.

Republicans have been pointing to the 9.5% unemployment rate as proof that Americans are not seeing a "Summer of Recovery."

Hours after issuing the report, Romer defended the stimulus and discussed her economic outlook before Congress' Joint Economic Committee. She said the U.S. economy has "unquestionably been going through a period of turbulence" recently, with investors wary of both Europe's debt crisis and mixed economic reports that have led some bearish traders to forecast a double-dip recession.

Romer said she doesn't believe a full-blown double-dip recession will occur, but deflation is a risk.

The American economy overall shed 125,000 jobs in June, according to a Labor Department report earlier this month. And since the start of the recession, 8 million jobs have been lost. The government's next job report is due August 6. To top of page

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