Preview: State ARRA Job Numbers Are All Over the Map
This Friday, October 30 is when the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is scheduled to release Recovery Act (ARRA) recipient data covering the more than $200 billion in stimulus funds that are passing through state governments. It will be a red letter day in the history of open government.
The states were required to submit their data earlier this month. While most have kept mum about their results, some have "leaked" key numbers (or much more) via their own Recovery Act websites. My colleagues and I at Good Jobs First have scanned those sites and offer this preview of what Friday has in store.
Probably the most anticipated numbers are those relating to job creation and job retention. States are supposed to provide such estimates relating to the dozens of federal grant programs funded by ARRA, including the huge amounts they have been receiving through the state fiscal stabilization fund.
As with the federal contractor ARRA data released on October 15, there are bound to be inconsistencies in the way the state job numbers get reported. This is already suggested by the states that have announced their results. Here are the ones we have found (amounts are full-time equivalents):
In theory, the number of jobs should very roughly correlate with the amount each state has received in ARRA funds. Yet if we take the amounts above and compare them to the total ARRA funds paid out in those states, that is not always the case. Here are the figures for dollars paid out per full-time-equivalent job created or retained:
New Hampshire $105,510
New Mexico $127,561
Rhode Island $303,056
West Virginia $1,205,977
While about half the group are in a reasonable range from about $105,000 to $216,000 (keeping in mind that not all funds have a direct impact on jobs), the others begin to veer off. For Pennsylvania and West Virginia to report an amount per job more than ten times that of New Hampshire suggests that something is wrong with the reporting system.
If the rest of the state data released on Friday show similar inconsistencies, the national jobs total should be viewed as something much less than definitive.
Reposted from the STAR Coalition website.
Clarification: The $200 billion figure mentioned above is estimated spending on the covered programs *over the life of ARRA.* The amount spent so far is likely to be only about $30 billion. This is based on the GAO estimate that about $50 billion has passed through the states (of which about $20 billion represents Medicaid, which is not covered by the recipient reporting system).