CNBC is reporting that the Obama administration, apparently Joe Biden was the spokesman, is out with a claim that its stimulus plan has created or saved 150,000 jobs so far. Given the continuing glum news on employment you may be wondering how this could be so. The answer is simple. It’s pure spin.
Here’s how the game they’re playing works. Remember that when they rolled out the stimulus bill they made a lot of claims about how many jobs it would create or save. The key word here is save and that was a new wrinkle from them.
Forget January, Obama wasn’t in power all month, let’s look at February through April. The numbers are from the BLS. In February non-farm employment was 133,652,000. In April it was 132,414,000 so arguably the economy lost 1,238,000 jobs. How then does the Obama administration claim to have created or saved 150,000 jobs.
The answer lies in the word saved that they introduced into the equation when they came out with their stimulus plan. Regardless of what the absolute numbers say about jobs lost or gained the administration can always claim that without their stimulus plan more jobs would have been lost therefore they saved those jobs. It’s a clever way to present their case since there is absolutely no way to refute their number. It’s a guess, an estimate and no fact exists to counter it.
Why should you care about this. Well, to be honest, you shouldn’t really spend a whole lot of time fretting over it. Just keep it in mind the next time you hear them talk about the number of jobs they created or saved and remind yourself to go find out what really happened.
More: here (Keith Hennessey has a long discussion about this with charts).