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Texas Reports Faulty ARRA Employment Numbers

by Published on

The purpose of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was to create and retain jobs. With the data provided on the national ARRA website Recovery.gov for Texas, it is unclear if the Recovery Act has been succeeding in its purpose to lower unemployment.

Texas hasn’t been hit as hard in terms of unemployment as other states. Currently Texas’ unemployment rate is at 8.21 percent vs. the national average of 9.5 percent. To say that ARRA has had a vast effect on lowering unemployment would be incorrect. Based on the information available from the federal government, no viable conclusion can be made if the Recovery Act has helped Texans obtain and retain jobs at all.

Extensive charts regarding ARRA projects for each state are available from the Recovery.gov web site. These charts provide statistics such as number of jobs created, respective state agency, funding awarded and other data associated with the project. However the data provided in the “number of jobs” column is difficult to understand since it portrays no clear cut definition if a job was created, retained, or even lost.

One of the projects provided in the charts describes a research grant to Texas A & M University. The school was given $54,300 to study proteins in tick-feeding technology ($54,300 for that? Really?). Texas A & M reported 0.61 in their “number of jobs” column. In their job creation description, they say that this 0.61 was designated for “Research Assistants”, but none other information beyond that. From that data provided, it is inconclusive as to what job-success was actually reported from the research project, such as whether it was a part-time program instead of a full-time position or perhaps just it was a research assistant job that would have been cut if it hadn’t been for stimulus funding.

Reporting confusion similar to this arose from changes made to the initial ARRA job-reporting guidelines set out by the Office of Management and Budget. Originally stimulus-recipients were supposed to calculate the specific number of jobs created and retained from their project. The current policy rather is to tally all hours of work related to an ARRA project, even if it isn’t from a new or retained position. ARRA recipients have been reporting skewed figures since they are including jobs that were unaffected before the Recovery Act took place.

More job-reporting confusion has risen from many recipients who have been reporting 0 or N/A in the “jobs reported” and “project description” column. The UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas received a $60,000 grant to address cardiac health issues. However they reported 0 jobs, and said “N/A” for their job creation description. From their lack of information, it can’t be concluded if jobs were retained or lost. Not every program initiated by ARRA was to raise employment and several agencies that are unrelated to employment have said so in their project description. N/A however, doesn’t give much insight into what the program is doing.

The data presented by Recovery.Gov is inconclusive as to whether progress in lowering unemployment in Texas is being made. According to the Texas portion of the state ARRA summaries, 47,734 jobs were retained or created in the second quarter of reporting. Out of all 16,692 Texas ARRA programs listed, the average number of jobs created by each program was 2.86. This shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a sign of success that ARRA has been tackling unemployment seeing how dozens of agencies have over 100 jobs created, and thousands of agencies haven’t reported any jobs created or retained at all.

Last quarter 43,545 jobs were reported created or retained by the Recovery Act so there has been an increase of 4,189 jobs during the second quarter. During the first quarter of 2010 though, only 14,546 ARRA programs were enacted coming out to an average of 3 jobs created or retained during the first quarter, and a loss of .14 average jobs in the second quarter.

From the data provided, the job creation/retention rate of ARRA has actually dropped even with more programs in place in 2010. Texas is stumbling in its effectiveness to create jobs from ARRA funds. Since the chart has no separate listing for jobs created and jobs retained but rather meshes them together and uses decimals to convey some sort of difference between the two, it is impossible to know how received employment that they didn’t have before ARRA. Interestingly enough, the data provided shows no sort of “Job Loss” column to show if people have actually been released from their previous positions in ARRA funded programs.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been instrumental in sustaining the currently ailing economy and has pumped billions of dollars in efforts to create jobs for the unemployed and keep them for the soon to be unemployed. However, from the data provided by the national government, it is inconclusive as to how many and where jobs are being created from ARRA, and if Texas’ unemployment rate should actually be ranking higher with those other states that are suffering throughout the country.