In the January 25, 2010 issue of Time, Nina Easton questioned the advisability extending jobless benefits indefinitely. Ms. Easton suggested that allowing eligibility for periods approaching two years may extend unemployment while providing a modest cushion to the unemployed who would prefer to be working. Ms. Easton’s article raises in my mind the question of the extent to which jobless benefits and job creation and economic stimulus are, and should be, synchronized.
Why is nothing said about creating sustainable jobs in sustainable new ventures that have two special objectives in addition to those you would find in most business enterprises: meeting an acknowledged need in the community and providing long-term employment to the chronically unemployed and under-employed?
The official jobs created data at Recovery.gov is categorized as recipient reported or agency reported. Recipient reported data is categorized as contracts, grants, and loans. Agency reported data is reported by ten individual departments: CNCS, DHS, DOC, DOD, DOE, DOI, DOJ, DOL, DOS, and DOT. As of 12/31/09, the federal government’s various recovery programs reported 20,368 contracts, 203,010 grants, and 986 loans.
Of the 20,368 contracts, 9,225 contracts provided no indication of jobs created and 1,437 (12.9% of the 11,143 and 7.1% of the total) that did provide job creation figures indicated fewer than 0.5 jobs created as a result of the contract. The 20,368 contracts totaled $25,081,315,704 in federal government funding to create 33,941.1 jobs for an average of $ 738,965.91 per job. The 5,310 contracts reporting 0.5 jobs created or more totaled $15,501,184,696.22 in funding and 33,684.4 jobs created for an average of $460,188.83/job while the 1,437 contracts reporting less than the equivalent of one-half of a job created received $855,094,999.83 in funding and created 256.7 jobs for an average of $3,330,976.59/job.
Of the 203,010 grants awarded (totaling $ 220,867,140,623.89), 53,941 grants (totaling $149,614,773,566 and 563,212 jobs created) provided job creation figures of which 23,719 (44.0%of those reporting job creation data, totaling $ 30,354,378,833.84 in funding) indicated zero as the number of jobs created. Of the grants reporting job creation data, 6,031 (11.2% of those reporting, totaling $5,941,548,974.86 in funding) indicated less than one-half of one job created by the grant. The 24,191 contracts reporting one-half of one job created or more totaled $ 113,318,845,757.34 in funding to create a reported 561,911.39 jobs for an average of $ 201,666.75 per job. The 6,031 contracts reporting less than the equivalent of one-half of one job created reported 1,300.86 jobs for an average of $4,567,400.78 job.
Of 986 loans, 10 (1.0% of the total) indicated fewer than 0.5 jobs created as a result of the contract. The 986 loans totaled $ 2,279,583,561.04 (average of $2.3 million per loan) in federal government funding to create 1,955.07 jobs for an average of $ 1,165,985.65 per job. The 125 loans reporting 0.5 jobs created or more totaled $ 759,306,200.00 in funding and 1,953.64 jobs created for an average of $388,662.29/job while the 10 loans reporting less than the equivalent of one-half of a job created received $ 96,133,000.00 in funding and created 1.7 jobs for an average of $ 55,248,850.57/job.
Out of 224,364 projects funded through 12/31/09 as part of the Economic Stimulus (Recovery) program, 158,294 projects (70.6%) did not report job creation data, 28,966 projects (12.9%) reported no jobs created and 37,104 projects reported at least fractional job creation. The funded projects received a total of $ 220,867,176,520.38 creating a reported 597,288.36 jobs for an average of $369,783.16 in funding per job created. An unknown portion, possibly a large portion, of project funding was budgeted for non-personnel costs. By comparison, Ford Motor Company with a market capitalization of approximately $36.5 billion employs 198,000 employees as of the end of fiscal year 2009 (Microsoft has a market capitalization of $245 billion with 93,000 employees). It seems that the economic stimulus projects, as currently reported, may be expensive compared to Ford (less expensive compared to Microsoft) on a per-employee basis, especially when one considers that many of the created jobs appear to be short term.
The key consideration is whether the jobs created are sustainable or temporary. If the jobs are temporary, federal and state government policy makers should consider shifting some unemployment resources to fund temporary jobs that may require less extensive pre-employment training and dedicate more resources to fund sustainable jobs of the future. Policy makers need to coordinate with industry, local, and regional planning bodies to identify long-term needs in their industries and areas, educational needs associated with those long-term needs, and develop plans for sustainable, in-demand job creation to phase-in and replace some of the current stimulus funding.