Net job impact of stimulus zero, from SF Federal Reserve study

A study by Daniel J. Wilson of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, suggests that the net job creation from the $814 billion stimulus bill passed in February, 2009, was zero by August 2010. In the first year,  the stimulus "saved or created" 2 million jobs (not 4 million as repeatedly claimed by the Administration), but this number proved to be short lived, paying for temporary jobs,  at a very high cost of $400,000 per job "saved or created."

By August, 2010, the impact of the stimulus on net job creation had disappeared.  This is an astounding result, which destroys the Paul Krugman argument that the economy would be so much better right now, if only Congress had approved much more spending in February 2009.  Double the initial spending,  double the number of temporary jobs, with likely the same net result by this point in time, or a trivial number of "permanent  jobs created .  In fact, the unemployment rate is at a substantially higher percentage rate today at 9.8% than when the stimulus bill was passed. 

The E21 team concludes 

"The results suggest that though the program did result in 2 million jobs "created or saved" by March 2010, net job creation was statistically indistinguishable from zero by August of this year. Taken at face value, this would suggest that the stimulus program (with an overall cost of $814 billion) worked only to generate temporary jobs at a cost of over $400,000 per worker. Even if the stimulus had in fact generated this level of employment as a durable outcome, it would still have been an extremely expensive way to generate employment.

Interestingly, federal assistance to state Medicaid programs appears to have decreased local and state government employment. One possibility is that requirements to maintain full Medicaid benefits in order to receive federal aid proved sufficiently expensive that state governments pushed though additional rounds of layoffs in non-health related areas. This finding may suggest a potential pitfall with the Wyden-Brown proposal to decentralize health reform efforts at the state level: if comprehensive insurance requirements are retained, the net effect of reform may only shift safety-net spending towards healthcare and away from other urgent priorities such as education or welfare assistance."

A study by Daniel J. Wilson of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, suggests that the net job creation from the $814 billion stimulus bill passed in February, 2009, was zero by August 2010. In the first year,  the stimulus "saved or created" 2 million jobs (not 4 million as repeatedly claimed by the Administration), but this number proved to be short lived, paying for temporary jobs,  at a very high cost of $400,000 per job "saved or created."

By August, 2010, the impact of the stimulus on net job creation had disappeared.  This is an astounding result, which destroys the Paul Krugman argument that the economy would be so much better right now, if only Congress had approved much more spending in February 2009.  Double the initial spending,  double the number of temporary jobs, with likely the same net result by this point in time, or a trivial number of "permanent  jobs created .  In fact, the unemployment rate is at a substantially higher percentage rate today at 9.8% than when the stimulus bill was passed. 

The E21 team concludes 

"The results suggest that though the program did result in 2 million jobs "created or saved" by March 2010, net job creation was statistically indistinguishable from zero by August of this year. Taken at face value, this would suggest that the stimulus program (with an overall cost of $814 billion) worked only to generate temporary jobs at a cost of over $400,000 per worker. Even if the stimulus had in fact generated this level of employment as a durable outcome, it would still have been an extremely expensive way to generate employment.

Interestingly, federal assistance to state Medicaid programs appears to have decreased local and state government employment. One possibility is that requirements to maintain full Medicaid benefits in order to receive federal aid proved sufficiently expensive that state governments pushed though additional rounds of layoffs in non-health related areas. This finding may suggest a potential pitfall with the Wyden-Brown proposal to decentralize health reform efforts at the state level: if comprehensive insurance requirements are retained, the net effect of reform may only shift safety-net spending towards healthcare and away from other urgent priorities such as education or welfare assistance."

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