WHAT THE HECK IS A JOB-YEAR?

Why, it's something clever to determine how the stimulus, er, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is working. Christine Romer and her team at the Council of Economic Advisors have put together this report [PDF] revising their projections about the number of jobs created by the stimulus; they expect about 3.5 million jobs to be created or saved by the end of 2010; by the end of 2012, the stimulus will have provided 6.8 million job-years, or one year of one job. That "created or saved" language has struck some people as wishy-washy, but the administration is undeterred:

"Saved versus created for an economist is not really a well-posed question," a senior administration official* told reporters today. "We're always talking about, where are we relative to the baseline? ... Whether those are created or saved, those are 3.5 million people who have a job that otherwise wouldn't."

As well as laying out what seem like pretty rigorous requirements for grant recipients to report the effect of stimulus money on job creation at a granular level, the report also emphasizes that government investment is the most effective form of stimulus, with the highest fiscal multiplier, followed by aid to states and, finally, tax cuts.

-- Tim Fernholz

*The administration demanded, for no good reason, that we not identify this official. Props to Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman for using her first question to challenge that decision, even though she was rebuffed by the WH press flack on the call.

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