How Many Jobs?

President Obama warmed up for his State of the Union Address on Monday, with an event at the White House on aid for the middle class.  Reporters though were more interested later in details about the economic stimulus law, raising questions that won't go away.

On the Sunday talk shows (as Republicans eagerly pointed out) three White House officials gave three different estimates on how many jobs have been created (and/or saved) by the Obama Administration.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed 1.5 million; political chief David Axelrod said 2 million, and Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said "thousands and thousands."

One thing the White House promised was a very transparent review of how many jobs were created, though that has been dogged by questions of accuracy and of how things are counted (jobs saved and jobs created.)

If you go to the much-maligned recovery.gov and look at the different state numbers, you will see that the Administration has cleaned up the data, so that there aren't lists saying that jobs went to Congressional districts that do not exist.

But there are still some numbers there that don't sound right.

For example in Georgia, the numbers at recovery.gov show over 24,000 jobs were funded by money from the economic stimulus law.  You can see it at http://bit.ly/8kPOAP .

For example, the 7th Congressional District of Rep. John Linder (R-GA) has received $183.7 million, which has created/saved 49 jobs.

That equals $3,749,221 for each job created in that district.  Yes, $3.7 million per job.

The big winner meanwhile is 5th District Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who represents a good chunk of Atlanta.

His district has received $1.54 billion, for 21,149 jobs.  Seems a bit much considering of the 12 other districts in Georgia, only one got over 1,000 jobs (the 8th.)

How about in Florida?  On the bottom there is the 20th District, home to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents area around Fort Lauderdale.

In the 20th District, recovery.gov says that 9.5 jobs were created/saved by spending $241,756,611 in stimulus money.

That is $25.4 million per job.  Check the figures at http://bit.ly/1il9CQ .

At the other end is Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL), who represents the 2nd District.  The numbers say that $2.16 billion was spent in his district to create 23,947 jobs.

No other district in Florida has more than 700 jobs created.

Let's move north to Ohio, where the best Congressional District is the 15th, home to Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH).

There, recovery.gov says $1.36 billion was spent for 13,212 jobs.  Look for yourself at http://bit.ly/6EWAc3 .

No other district in Ohio had over 400 jobs created.

How about out to Oklahoma.  Is it different in a red state?  Nope.

The figures from recovery.gov show the 1st District of Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) has 161 jobs created/saved by $241,306,455.

That's $1,498,797 per job.

At the top end is Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK) in the 5th District, who had 6,569 jobs created from $750 million.

No other district in Oklahoma had over 800 jobs created.  See that at http://bit.ly/7TjMLI .

Now let's review.  The big winners in the states of Georgia, Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma were clear.  But why did they have so much money than the other districts?

Well, that's an easy answer.  Those districts are where the state capitals are located.

So the recovery.gov people are counting all the money that is sent to the state governments as "jobs created" in that specific district, even though the money might be doled out elsewhere.

No wonder a new CNN poll says that 3 of 4 Americans say at least half of the stimulus money has been wasted.  It will be very difficult for the White House to erase that kind of gut feeling among voters.