The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Eckstrom Pushes for Reform on Stimulus Job Calculations

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Distressed by data that appears exaggerated and unreliable, South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom is urging substantive reforms in how stimulus-related job totals are calculated.

Eckstrom, South Carolina’s stimulus oversight coordinator, said he doesn’t have confidence in reports that more than 8,000 jobs have been created or saved in the Palmetto State through the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

In an editorial in The State newspaper, he called for several reforms:

  • Counting new jobs created, rather than the nebulous “jobs saved or created,” since estimating “jobs saved” requires additional guesswork;
  • Counting “jobs created” using actual hours worked, which could be verified using auditable payroll records, rather than using complicated estimation formulas provided by Washington; and
  • Counting separately jobs that are known to be temporary, part-time jobs. “Of jobs the White House reported for South Carolina, more than 2,600 were in part-time, summer youth programs that ended with summer,” Eckstrom pointed out. “To count those jobs as if they were full-time, well-paying jobs distorts the numbers.”

The process being used to count jobs is flawed, according to Eckstrom.

“For one thing, rather than simply count the number of jobs created, the White House has coined the phrase ‘jobs saved or created,’ which has resulted in an inflated job count,” he said. “Recipients of stimulus funds have had to guess how many jobs have been saved, since no one knows for sure whether or how many jobs they might have shed had the stimulus not passed. Upon examination, many of those guesses have been grossly exaggerated.

“There also have been media reports from across the country of stimulus funds being used to give employees raises and those raises being counted as ‘jobs saved,’” Eckstrom added.

Earlier this fall, it was reported that 2,470 federal contracts and grants with a total value of $3.82 billion have been approved for government agencies and private companies across the state. However, much of that money has not been spent, or even received.

Even with the stimulus package, employment has suffered in South Carolina. According to data from the S.C. Employment Security Commission, South Carolina has fewer individuals working today than it did when the stimulus was passed early this year.

In February 2009, there were 2.19 million South Carolinians employed; as of October, the most recent data available, that figure was 2.17 million.

Last month, there was a national uproar regarding the apparent funneling of stimulus dollars to non-existent congressional districts – news the Policy Council broke in South Carolina. Days later the U.S. government revised its data but the new information raised still more questions.

For example, in the category of Jobs Created/Saved by ZIP code, lists 5,186.7 jobs having been created or saved in the 29201 ZIP code (Columbia). This is correlated with $399,700,409 in stimulus funding.

By comparison, in the 29211 ZIP code (also Columbia), $640,467,845 is listed under stimulus funding, but zero jobs have been created or saved in that area, according to

“Regardless of one’s opinion on the stimulus, we should all be able to agree that Americans deserve an honest assessment of the stimulus’ impact,” Eckstrom wrote. “Besides, we won’t be the ones repaying this debt – that will fall to our children and grandchildren. … More than anything, we owe it to those future generations to measure, as accurately as possible, the effectiveness of this stimulus spending for which they’ll be paying for decades.”


Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

December 3, 2009 at 9:21 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] from the Franklin Center on the mistakes. Hastily corrected, the administration’s credibility gap lingers. The national story was broken by Rio Grande Foundation investigative reporter Jim […]

  2. […] The Palmetto Insider | Eckstrom Pushes for Reform on Stimulus Job Calculations […]

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