From South Detroit to Shockandawe

Politicians fudging on job stats is getting to be a habit

A pattern of sorts is starting to emerge: When one hears numbers of “jobs created or saved” by various government programs, it appears to be more and more likely that such numbers were pulled by someone out of the vicinity of his or her own back pocket. Consider:

  • Three weeks ago, Gov. Granholm touted the success of her “No Worker Left Behind Program." According to the state, 72 percent of participants managed to either find a job or retain their existing job. But without a comparison group of non-participants, it is impossible to say whether or not NWLB really helped workers find or keep jobs.
  • At about the same time, our Mike LaFaive noted that the Michigan Economic Growth Authority’s job creation figures were wildly inflated; at best, actual job creation by MEGA amounts to only 29 percent of the numbers claimed by the state agency. LaFaive found evidence that MEGA spending actually had a negative effect on jobs: For every $1 million in MEGA credits dished out, employment appeared to decline by 95 jobs in counties where the MEGA projects were located.
  • Now we see evidence suggesting that many of the jobs claimed to have been preserved or created under the federal stimulus program were entirely fanciful. We suspect this is so because a listing of the jobs by congressional district has listings for districts numbered from 00 (I believe that would be South Detroit, which was made famous by that Journey song) to 83 (it’s in the Upper Peninsula somewhere around Shockandawe).

As the economy continues to struggle, both nationally and especially in Michigan, it will be tempting for politicians who have promised to boost employment through government spending to resort to statistical tricks to make their programs look like they are working better than they actually are. As always, such statistics should be viewed with extreme skepticism. Making up job numbers is starting to become a habit for the defenders of big government.

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