Created or Saved? Fuzzy Math

Fox’s Major Garrett, among others, tried to hold WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs feet to the fire on the “jobs saved or created” fuzzy math coming from the White House. Garret wonders, when you have 500,000 people filing for unemployment each week, how can you crow about 600,000 jobs? Gibbs answer is classic.


Got that? A multiplier effect on jobs that no one is really sure were created … much less saved. I asked a former University mathematics teacher and friend of mine to comb through the numbers and here’s what he came up with.

The White House is reporting the job-creation/saved number to be 640,329. Attached to only about 47% of the $340,000,000,000 of “obligations and tax cuts” attributed to that job-creation/saved number was the requirement that the recipients report back on “job creation” and on how the stimulus money was spent. President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers is extrapolating from the $159 billion that $340 billion of taxpayers’ money has created over 1.3 million jobs…er…created or saved over 1.3 million jobs.

Herein lies the problem. Looking beyond the already diluted 640,329 figure (as pointed out here on Hot Air and on Sound Off Connecticut via the CBS news clip), there is no way to know for sure what 640K actually represents, let alone the 1.3 million figure based on that. Does 90% of the data represent jobs saved? Or is it just 45%?  Perhaps, 70% is jobs created, while 30% is jobs saved. The overarching phrase, “jobs created or saved”, is economically undefinable.

Allan Meltzer, Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University, pointed out “One can search economic textbooks forever without finding a concept called ‘jobs saved.’ It doesn’t exist for good reason: how can anyone know that his or her job has been saved?” (see WSJ) Saying the Recovery Act has saved however many thousands of jobs is thoroughly specious. The White House may as well say that the ARRA stopped North Korea from launching a nuclear attack on polar bears residing in the Arctic Circle! “Can’t you all see? The polar bears are safe now! We did it!”

Despite all of this, the White House is claiming victory with the stimulus package. But who has actually benefited from the Recovery Act to inspire such a response? Well, the White House report states the people required to report back are either school workers, construction workers, non-profit organizations, or local governments themselves. The only groups that seem to be benefiting.

What’s more, to adopt an I-told-you-so stance regarding the ARRA is groundless and arrogant to say the least. The adage, “correlation does not imply causation,” seems to have slipped the White House’s collective mind. If the Recovery Act really was stimulating the economy (which it isn’t), you would see some improvement in private sector employment, which we haven’t.  The two states (namely, New Mexico and Idaho) that have received the most stimulus per capita have seen an increase in unemployment by over two percentage points each. And according to forecasters gathered by the Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate for the U.S. is still projected to increase to a conservative 10% before falling to just 9.9% by June 2010.

It would be great if we could trust President Obama’s government spending of taxpayer money actually created jobs. It would be even better if President Obama’s government spending of taxpayer money actually created non-government and non-union jobs. But it’s clear that, despite the so-called transparency of, the people of the United States will never know how our money has helped the U.S.’s economy with certainty.

President Obama’s new motto: We’ll create jobs, lots of jobs…probably…and only government jobs…oh…and maybe some union jobs…probably.

Well said. And just for ease of use … here’s that CBS report again from Hot Air:


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Jim Vicevich

Jim is a veteran broadcaster and conservative/libertarian blogger with more than 25 years experience in TV and radio. Jim's was the long-term host of The Jim Vicevich Show on WTIC 1080 in Hartford from 2004 through 2019. Prior to radio, Jim worked as a business and financial reporter for NBC30 - the NBC owned TV station in Hartford - and as business editor at WFSB-TV in Hartford for 14 years while earning six Emmy nominations and three Telly Awards.


  1. SoundOffSister on October 31, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Your math teacher friend should post more often.  Jobs created or saved is simply mumbo jumbo.  Obama might as well say, "the government has finally found out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin".  The answer would be equally specious. 

  2. Anne-EH on October 31, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Is "fuzzy math" the new math? :)=^..^=

  3. Dimsdale on October 31, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Isn't proving a job was "saved" akin to proving a negative, i.e. impossible?  Or maybe just as likely as one of Obama's promises coming true…

  4. Dimsdale on November 1, 2009 at 3:25 am

    How does that guy sleep at night?  If I were him, my bottom desk drawer would be well stocked with adult beverages to dull the guilt.

  5. Erik Blazynski on November 2, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    The economy is all better, nothing to see here. And if you don't have a job then tough crap cause we are going to have something called jobless recovers and you will not be going back to work. Apparently we are going to perpetually inflate GDP with massive government spending. Oh and if you're employed, spread em, cause we are also going to increase the money that you pay to the government (not taxes though). So no new jobs and everyone will have less money to spend…  We call this recovery.

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