Recipients of economic-stimulus money said they had used the funds to pay 599,108 workers in the last quarter of 2009, fewer than the number of jobs they had reported to have created or saved in the first seven months after the plan was enacted.
The recipients' reports, published on the official government Web site recovery.gov late Saturday night, are likely to fuel further controversy over the impact of the $787 billion package, as Democrats seek to craft new jobs-creation proposals to address the country's continued, high jobless rate.
Many opinion polls suggest that most voters do not believe the current stimulus program, which was passed last February, is working.
Stimulus recipients previously reported that they had directly "created or saved" 640,329 jobs by September 30, 2009, but their filings were widely criticized after it emerged that some people had reported saving jobs when they had actually spent the money on pay raises or paying employees who were not in danger of being laid off.
Change you can believe in.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the plan has kept between 1.5 million and two million jobs in the economy through the end of 2009. In his State of the Union address to Congress last week, President Barack Obama said that "because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed." A White House spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Feb. 11, 2009, Congress gave final approval to a $787 billion stimulus package requested by President Obama that was meant to bolster an economy that had been contracting rapidly in the wake of the credit crisis of the previous fall.
The bill had been bitterly resisted by Republicans — none voted for the measure in the House and only three did in the Senate — and several Republican governors, including Sarah Palin of Alaska and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, sought unsuccessfully to refuse some of the money sent their way. Conservative protestors regularly cited the bill's price tag as a sign that the Obama administration was running up unaffordable debt and was devoted to big government.The economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. But well over half of that growth came from large adjustments to business inventories that are unlikely to be repeated on a similar scale in the months to come. As such, they are evidence that the sick economy is recovering, not that it is healthy.
Another chunk of growth was due to government stimulus spending, which will wane in 2010. Much of the recent upsurge in business purchases of equipment and software was likely due to a rush to take advantage of an investment tax break before it expired in December.
Unfortunately, with the economy already some 10 million jobs short, there is no job growth on the horizon robust enough to set that upward spiral in motion. And because the economy is already in such a deep hole, a second leg down would mean ever worsening hardship.
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Stimulus Report Accurate?