The Not So Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly

Not all stimulus programs are created equal. If the goal of the latest economic bailout package that Congress is considering is as President Elect Obama has declared, job creation, there is a significant disparity between many of the programs.  While only 39 of the variously appropriated federal programs even attempt to quantify the number of jobs that they would create, there is a huge disparity in how effective various programs are at job creation — ranging from $1,000,000 per job created down to $16,000 per job created.

For a bill that is designed to stimulate job creation, it is disgraceful that Congress would appropriate any money for programs where the agency has not even attempted to estimated the number of jobs that the appropriation would generate. For the few programs that have estimated the number of jobs created there are obviously some that are economically more efficient than others. And Congress should certainly direct resources to those programs that would maximize the job benefit for the buck. At a minimum, Congress should focus on those programs that are more rather than less efficient. If a program cannot even estimate the number of jobs that if would create, that program certainly doesn’t qualify for emergency economic recovery legislation. Congress should insist on knowing how many jobs a program is estimated to generate before appropriating huge sums of American taxpayer dollars.

Here is a list of programs from the stimulus bill and  the estimated cost per job.