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October 30th, 2009
01:03 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: White House says stimulus created 650,000 jobs

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The first quarter of economic growth in more than a year was a cause for celebration yesterday, albeit one tempered by the realization that until job creation picks up, any recovery will not be felt on Main Street for some time.

Today, the Obama Administration weighed in on that subject, saying the largest stimulus program in the nation's history has created or saved about 650,000 state and local jobs.

Based on approximately $150 billion in spending from the $787 billion recovery package, the tally is the first broad, concrete look at the stimulus program's impact on the economy. The numbers are drawn from tens of thousands of reports from state and local recipients as well as private companies.

And the White House said the actual number of jobs created so far is likely closer to 1 million, since its report only focused on $150 billion of the $339 billion in stimulus funds spent so far.

The Obama administration is expected to announce further details about jobs Friday afternoon, after the government posts complete reports online on its stimulus data tracker Recovery.gov. Each job cost $230,000 to create.

But with the unemployment rate expected to tick up to 9.9% and more jobs losses expected next week when the government releases its October employment report, when are the jobs going to get here?

The answer, according to CNNMoney.com, is not anytime soon.

The consensus forecast is that job losses will continue through the end of this year, with many economists not expecting unemployment to peak until next summer. That will add to the 7.2 million jobs already lost in this downturn.

Jobs are what are known as a trailing or lagging indicator, meaning that they change in response to other economic events, rather than predicting changes the way a leading indicator, such as the stock market, does. That's because even after a recession has ended, employers are slow to add staff until they're sure that demand has returned.

The real worry is that the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression will be followed by a jobless recovery, just like what happened after the recessions in 1990-1991 and 2001.

Also in focus today, spending by Americans took a big tumble in September as the “Cash for Clunkers” program expired and the weakness in the job market persisted.

The 0.5% drop in spending last month was the largest since December 2008, when the recession was at its worst. Personal income, meanwhile, was essentially unchanged in September.

Speaking of “Cash for Clunkers” the White House on Thursday lashed out at a prominent critic of the program, arguing that the popular trade-in initiative helped give the auto industry and the economy a much needed boost in the past few months.

In a blog post on whitehouse.gov, the administration argued that a report on “Clunkers” by automotive Website Edmunds.com that said it cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold and did not have a great impact on the auto industry “doesn't withstand even basic scrutiny” and is based on “implausible assumptions.”

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. JC-Los Angeles

    How about using some of the stimulus money to send the White House back for additional math classes?

    October 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  2. Kristen, MD

    Who exactly are these people getting the jobs created. I am actively seeking a job and want to know where do you apply?

    October 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  3. Catherine

    So let's clarify~ The stimulus program "created" or "saved" jobs, which is it? Having difficulty seeing the reality of all of these "created" jobs!

    October 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm |