First hard stimulus data finds 30,000 jobs saved or created

The first direct stimulus reports showed that stimulus contracts saved or created just 30,083 jobs, prompting more Republican criticism of the $787 billion package.

The data posted Thursday was the result of the government's initial attempt at counting actual stimulus jobs. Obama administration officials stressed that data was partial -- it represented just $16 billion out of the $339 billion awarded -- but they said it exceeded their projections.

"All signs -- from private estimates to this fragmentary data -- point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

According to the White House recovery office's rough calculations, the 30,083 jobs number projects out to a total of 1.2 million jobs saved or created by the stimulus through September.

The White House recovery team said that the reported jobs number represented just 5 percent of the jobs directly saved or created by stimulus since it came out of contracts that represented only 5 percent of the stimulus spending so far. And as many jobs came directly from the spending, just as many jobs were indirect results of stimulus programs and tax cuts, the White House recovery office said.

But the preliminary raw data stoked more stimulus criticism from GOP lawmakers. Republicans pointed to the reports and the current 9.8 percent jobless rate, the highest in 26 years, to charge that the stimulus had failed.

Aides to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted that nearly 3.4 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus was passed in February. They also dug up quotes by President Obama, Biden and their economists in which they predicted that the stimulus would save or create 3 to 4 million jobs.

House Republicans believe that the stimulus will turn into a campaign issue that will work against Democrats during mid-terms next year. The National Republican Congressional Committee Thursday took the initial stimulus reports to mean that the stimulus created or saved few jobs in the home districts of vulnerable Democrats.

"Despite numerous promises from Congressional Democrats, there are still 15.1 million Americans out of work," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "After wasting taxpayer dollars to produce an unimpressive 397 jobs in Michigan, middle-class families are still asking one thing: Where are the jobs?"