The White House released some new numbers on the stimulus today. The one that's getting the most attention is $92,000. That's how much it will cost to create or preserve each stimulus-related job. Do I even need to relay the snarky rejoinder to this?
But the number is more complicated than it seems. Building a bridge creates a certain number of jobs. But it also requires you to buy a lot of cement. Cutting taxes for small businesses helps preserve jobs. But it does that by helping them pay the rent. Pumping billions into Pell grants helps kids secure better jobs because they can graduate from college. But it really just replaces tuition that would otherwise be paid by richer families.
The stimulus was primarily, but not only, a job creation package. It also spread broadband and strengthened universities and built trains and helped schools. Much of the fear in a recession is that investments important to tomorrow's economy stop happening. Fewer students go to college and fewer roads get repaired. The stimulus spent quite a bit paying for the ongoing investments that mean tomorrow's economy will have jobs, and many of them will even be good jobs.