It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
How much are politicians straining to convince people that the government is stimulating the economy? In Oregon, where lawmakers are spending $176 million to supplement the federal stimulus, Democrats are taking credit for a remarkable feat: creating 3,236 new jobs in the program's first three months.
But those jobs lasted on average only 35 hours, or about one work week. After that, those workers were effectively back unemployed, according to an Associated Press analysis of state spending and hiring data. By the state's accounting, a job is a job, whether it lasts three hours, three days, three months, or a lifetime.
"Sometimes some work for an individual is better than no work," said Oregon's Senate president, Peter Courtney.
With the economy in tatters and unemployment rising, Oregon's inventive math underscores the urgency for politicians across the country to show that spending programs designed to stimulate the economy are working — even if that means stretching the facts.
At the federal level, President Barack Obama has said the federal stimulus has created 150,000 jobs, a number based on a misused formula and which is so murky it can't be verified.
At least 10 other states have launched their own miniature stimulus plans and nine others have proposed one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of them, like Oregon, have promised job creation as a result of the public spending.
Ohio, for instance, passed a nearly $1.6 billion stimulus package even before Congress was looking at a federal program. When Gov. Ted Strickland first pitched the idea last year, he estimated the program could create some 80,000 jobs.
In North Carolina, a panel authorized hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt to speed up $740 million in government building projects. According to one estimate, the move could hurry the creation of 25,000 jobs.
As the bills for these programs mount, so will the pressure to show results. But, as Oregon illustrates, job estimates can very wildly.
"You can't let them say, 'Well, we never said it was going to be full-time,'" said Steve Buckstein, a policy analyst for the Cascade Policy Institute, a free-market think tank. For the price of Oregon's $176 million, lawmakers could have provided all 3 million state residents with a one-hour job paying about $60, he said.
"By their definition, that's 3 million jobs," Buckstein said. "Is anybody gonna buy that?"
Oregon's 12.4 percent unemployment rate surpasses the national average of 9.4 percent. To supplement the federal stimulus, the state sold bonds to pay for everything from replacing light bulbs to installing carpet and finishing construction of a school in the farming community of Tillamook.