Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Applies That Famous Journalistic Skepticism to Ridiculous Job Creation Numbers

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Obama — Patterico @ 7:30 am

Unbelievable. The Obama administration is making even more ridiculous claims about the effect of the stimulus, and the stenographers at the L.A. Times are swallowing it whole:

Stimulus saved or created up to 2 million jobs in 2009, White House says

The Obama administration, offering evidence that its much-maligned efforts to spur economic recovery have begun to take hold, said Tuesday that the $787-billion stimulus program saved or created 1.5 million to 2 million jobs last year.

These latest figures from the White House Council of Economic Advisors are certain to be challenged by Republicans, but the employment and economic effects of the stimulus cited in the report are generally in line with estimates from some leading private economists as well as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Note the pre-emptive language: those damn Republicans will certainly criticize the numbers. But don’t listen to them, because the figure is backed up by leading private economists and the CBO.

Except that not one single “leading private economist” is quoted in the article.

Nor does the article tell readers that the CBO doesn’t have a clue how many jobs were “created or saved.” The CBO has given a huge range of 600,000 to 1.6 million extra jobs. (Is 600,000 in line with 1.5 million to 2 million?) But in reality, the CBO itself admits that it has no idea how much of this alleged increase was caused by the stimulus:

[I]t is impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package.

That’s a quote from the CBO report. They don’t have a clue.

Back to the L.A. Times article, which tells us:

In its first quarterly report on the stimulus, issued in September, the White House estimated that the Recovery Act had raised employment levels by more than 1 million jobs as of the third quarter. The new report incorporates data from stimulus recipients who said they saved or created 640,000 full-time-equivalent jobs as of the third quarter.

The White House’s estimate of stimulus-induced jobs for 2009 is based on economic modeling and projections and as such is likely to be met with considerable skepticism from Republicans and other critics who have not only questioned the methodology but also documented cases in which stimulus money went to dubious projects.


It’s more than that. The 640,000 number is an utter joke. It’s not just Republicans who have questioned the methodology — it’s also several media outlets in various places all around the country.

And it’s not merely a case of dubious projects. It’s a matter of out-and-out deception on the part of the administration in describing how many jobs were “created or saved” — to the point where the administration has actually decided to abandon that measurement (something I guess they forget to tell their own Council of Economic Advisors). Raises and pay for people who were never going to lose their jobs were counted as jobs “created or saved” before. Now they are explicitly counted as jobs “funded” by the stimulus.

Jobs were reported to be created or saved in congressional districts that don’t exist. The sale of one lawnmower was credited with saving 50 jobs.

The AP found that stimulus spending on transportation had no effect on local unemployment. No effect. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

None of this makes it into the article. None.

It’s just stenography. The White House says it, and so it must be true.

Utterly pathetic. Now do you see why this sort of journalism needs to die?

36 Responses to “L.A. Times Applies That Famous Journalistic Skepticism to Ridiculous Job Creation Numbers”

  1. I’m sure the article is deeply comforting to all those who have been out of work for over a year now. What’s the effective unemployment rate here now, 20%?

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  2. The LAT article didn’t quote any of those “leading private economists” the reporters assure us back the Obama Administration’s story. But I’m sure these great economist exist, and they’re as rigorously nonpartisan as the LAT itself.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  3. I expected the Obama administration to be more ambitious in its lies. $394K per job is not a success; it’s a travishamockery. And that’s taking the high end of the made up job numbers, and ignoring the interest paid on the deficit spending that allegedly funds them.

    roy (d6fc79)

  4. @ #1

    You forget, those people are funemployed. Living in Dr. Seuss’ Whoverville with plenty of roast beast for all. They’re not sad at all, why they’re actually singing.

    Don’t believe me? Well, not believing me funded 12 jobs by the magic of Stimulus.

    This comment funded 33 jobs.

    Hadlowe (e786cd)

  5. The LAT’s inability to parse the Stimulus’ “jobs-created-or-saved” numbers reflects its inability to manage its own finances.

    It’s not that the LAT’s newsroom and editorial board are biased, it’s that they’re not very good at Job One — reporting and analyzing the news. They’re reduced to simply taking and regurgitating dictation.

    furious (71af32)

  6. I blame it on the “New Math”

    quasimodo (4af144)

  7. Note to The Times: that water you’re carrying must be getting heavy by now. Put it down and rest a bit.

    Some chump (d97978)

  8. Actually, the jobs “saved” by the stimulus funds would have been “saved” without the stimulus funds. But it isn’t helpful to count that way.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  9. They’re demonstrating that they can be good little apparatchiks. An admirable quality in an industry that will be lobbying hard for a bailout in the coming years.

    Techie (217a89)

  10. furious’ comment at #5 address my unending question, “How much are these people consciously trying to deceive (and if so, what makes them and keeps them doing it), and how much do they believe what they write (and why don’t they know better)?

    I ask this as if to understand would lead to the opportunity to do something about it. But the answer is probably, “Both. More of one than the other in different mixtures depending on the individual. And they do it because at some level they prefer these ideas to knowing the truth.”

    Open to hearing better answers.

    MD in Philly (d4668b)

  11. I think that private economist who endorsed the job numbers is the famous MIT professor, Jonathan Gruber.

    He certainly can be relied upon as nonpartisan.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  12. Does Axelrod channel Jon Lovitz when they decide on these numbers.

    GEITNER: We lost another 86,000 jobs last month.

    AX: So we can say we saved 500,000 jobs, no make it 561,257. Yeah that’s it. 561,257! It looks scientific. Yeeaahh! Scientific!

    OBAMA: Can’t we make it bigger? I like big numbers.

    AX: Yeah! You’re so right boss! Bigger! Lets make it 1,200,000. Yeah! That’s it! More than a million. You’re a genius, boss.

    GEITNER: Look, I’ll cheat on my taxes but even I wouldn’t go this far. We are losing jobs! We’ve lost almost 2,000,000 jobs since that damn stimulus.

    AX: Yeah! 2,000,000! That’s the number. We’ll look like geniuses. That’s right! Geniuses!!

    OBAMA: Uh, umh, uh – shouldn’t we make it an odd number. I like 2,000,000 though.

    AX: Right boss. You’re so smart boss. We’ll just say between 1.5 and 2 million jobs. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Don’t give them an exact number. We’ll leave that for Biden to do. Yeah! Yeah! Biden, that’s the ticket. He’s the smart one in this administration anyway.

    MU789 (514c52)

  13. The working girls down on the boulevard are all doing their bit to help Obama. Every hand job and blow job stands as a “Job Created” in the Obama calculus. And the Daily Dog Trainer will loyally include each such “job” in its praise for our New Messiah.

    Mike Myers (3c9845)

  14. this violates the liberals “fair and balanced” standard of half truthes and will raise questions of bias.

    clyde (281d90)

  15. Do they see unicorns too?

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  16. Sure, I myself got about 9000 job offers last year. It was annoying.

    Patricia (b05e7f)

  17. You know what else has disappeared into the memory hole: the Obama Administration’s claim that passage of the stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 8%. If this were a Republican administration can you imagine these reporters writing the story and not pointing out that this projection was grossly overstated?

    JVW (48cbba)

  18. I hope someone has sent that graph from Innocent Bystanders to the LATimes ombudsman.

    Techie (217a89)

  19. Blowing $1 trillion on random crap does help the economy. The question is whether it is worth the cost – it is not. The saying that shows up every day in the newspaper “our kids will pay for this” is not even accurate anymore. Everyone still alive in 2017 is going to experience first hand the massive unwinding of this $20 trillion national debt. There is no way we are going to pay $1 trillion a year in interest – above all other spending.

    “You let me write 200 billion in hot checks and I can give you the illusion of prosperity, too.” — Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle

    Wesson (9fddaa)

  20. Rush Limbaugh just made the excellent observation that White House economists seem to have learned the same “trick” in hiding the decline in available jobs that the climate scientists so successfully used to hide the decline in global warming.

    JVW (48cbba)

  21. MU789 sees Jon Lovitz, I see Baghdad Bob, Thank god we have such wonderful cultural icons to invoke as “code” whenever unbelievable pablum as this jobs stuff is attempted to be fed to the public as reality. Fortunately, the public understands this all too well by now and is laughing at the admisinstration just as they guffawed at Jon Lovitz’ lies and Baghdad Bob’s pronouncements.

    elissa (dc88c4)

  22. They did ask Obama how spending money, seemingly randomly, was going to stimulate the economy. He laughed it off. Of course you have to spend money in a stimulus! LOL! I imagine many Chicago thugs are very happy with our stimulus.

    SEIU is pumping money into the election, and got it via contracts in the stimulus requiring union membership and dues and thus campaign money for democrats.

    Does Obama really want the economy to be fixed yet? Maybe there’s more juice to be squeezed. I wonder if he thinks he can turn this around in time for his reelection. And if he can’t, does it matter? We’re talking about a huge transfer of wealth for a huge apparatus that Obama isn’t really in control of. If they could only get away with it for 4 years, is that really so bad for them?

    Soros will make a windfall off his Caribbean off shore drilling operations, but only if we hold off for a couple of years on US copmanies drilling. There are thousands of windfalls like that.

    They can play silly games with statistics for quite a while.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. Y’know, at work here we often have a discussion about some of the folks we work with, and the things they do and believe.

    The discussion centers around the argument as to whether they are stupid, or evil.

    You’d be surprised how hard it is to make that decision.

    1560 SHP (d9db9c)

  24. If the newsies at the LAT had really wanted to find out about jobs “saved or created”,
    they would have interviewed some of their ex-co-workers who are now out-on-the-street.

    AD - RtR/OS! (1365d9)

  25. in a darkly humorous way, i am entertained by the fact that only “stimulus” project i have seen in SoCal is the ongoing improvements to the OC toll road that runs from Costa Mesa to San Juan Capistrano….. a project that was underway prior to the bill, and on a roadway that is privately run for profit….

    that’s everything *i* need to know about the Porkulus.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  26. The Dog Trainer lies — journalistic integrity dies

    Icy Texan (ad594b)

  27. The only way they can get the CBO to go along with this is easy. The CBO can only determine an outcome based on the parameters given. In this case, the parameter was … if ANY money whatsoever goes to a person who is currently working, that job has been *saved*. Makes me want to puke, but, it is the truth, in fairness to CBO.

    sybilll (c2ea8b)

  28. I can tell you first – hand that most (if not all) of that awesome stimulus money went directly into the Dem operatives and cronies here in Chicago and IL who subsist entirely on this stuff. The money was then immediately doled out to those due political favors, such as the corrupt road construction firms that have operated this way for decades at this point. Meanwhile, our local employment rate has not only been unchanged since that largesse, it’s actually progressed ever downward.

    Dmac (539341)

  29. Each of the snowflakes that fell during the recent “global warming” blizzard created a “shovel-ready” job…count them up and you easily reach 1.5 to 2 million. Yes, it’s a “snow job”, and the administration excels in this area. The only problem: it’s not snow that Obama and crew are shoveling.

    navyvet (e4db05)

  30. .

    > Except that not one single “leading private economist” is quoted in the article.



    /Sarc off



    Wun Lefti Dipsheet (79d71d)

  31. > The only problem: it’s not snow that Obama and crew are shoveling.

    Yeah, and it hits the fan on Nov. 2, 2010.

    O Bloody Hell (79d71d)

  32. Now do you see why this sort of journalism needs to die?

    Yeah, it needs to, but with leftists largely in charge of the institutes of higher learning, that death may not be anytime soon.

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (76097c)

  33. Here’s my take on it.

    If you can count them, you can name them.

    Get started.

    Scott B (a45cf8)

  34. The day the Times folds I will be there on First and Spring celebrating. I need to start working on my sign.

    Alta Bob (e8af2b)

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