Fox & Friends report on "overstated" stimulus job impact ignores that errors were corrected a week ago
Research ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN
In an October 29 report, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said that an Associated Press investigation showing that some of the jobs reported by federal contract recipients as having been created due to the stimulus were inaccurate, which Kilmeade said "makes the [jobs] numbers suspect." But, while Kilmeade reported that the "White House says it's aware of the problems and working to fix them," he ignored that the White House has claimed that the majority of the errors identified in the AP report had already been corrected prior to the report running and that the job data posted represent "just 2% of Recovery Act spending."
Fox report: Stimulus job "numbers suspect"; ignores that most of identified errors had been fixed
From the October 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: A Colorado company said it used stimulus money to create 4,200 jobs. In fact, it was fewer than 1,000. A Florida company said it used stimulus money to save 130 jobs; instead, it gave pay raises to employees. The Associated Press says companies across the country are routinely inflating what they've done with their stimulus money. No one's telling the truth anymore, and that makes the numbers suspect. In tomorrow's big report on the impact of the stimulus, the White House says it's aware of the problems and working to fix them.
Four of the five errors AP identified had already been corrected
White House: "Of the five specific problems cited by AP, four had already been found and fixed." The AP report identified five different specific instances in which businesses reported inaccurate job numbers. From an October 29 White House press release (the italized text indicates a direct quote from the October 29 AP report):
"A Colorado company said it created 4,231 jobs with the help of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan. The real number: fewer than 1,000."
FACT: The very first example AP cites was already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday. This item represents over 3,000 -- or 60 percent -- of the "nearly 5,000 jobs" AP uses to try to make its argument.
Officials at East Central Technical College in Douglas, Ga., said they now know they shouldn't have claimed 280 stimulus jobs linked to more than $200,000 to buy three semi-trucks and trailers for commercial driving instruction, and a modular classroom and bathroom for a health education program.
FACT: This item -- which represents less than .06 percent of the total jobs reported was also already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
The San Joaquin, Calif., Regional Rail Commission reported creating or saving 125 jobs as part of a stimulus project to lay railroad track. Because the project drew from two pools of money, the commission reported that figure twice, bringing the total to 250.
FACT: This item -- which represents less than .04 percent of the total jobs reported - was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
The Toledo, Ohio-based Koring Group also received two FCC contracts to help people make the switch to digital television. The company reported hiring 26 people for each of the two contracts, bringing its total jobs to 54 on the government's official count. But the company cited the same 26 workers for both contracts, meaning the same jobs were counted twice. The job count was further inflated because each job lasted only about two months, so each worker should have counted as one-sixth of a full-time job.
FACT: This item -- which represents less than .01 percent of the total jobs reported -- was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
Obama administration: Companies were given until October 30 to correct job numbers
Recovery Board chair said prior to data's release, "[W]e don't expect perfection"; recipients can correct errors in their reports. On October 13, prior to releasing the first batch of stimulus job data, Recovery Board chairman Earl E. Devaney noted that "there will be errors and omissions in some reports" and stated:
For those of us at the Recovery Board, October is a pivotal month. For the first time since our founding in February under the Recovery Act, we will be posting data from recipients of Recovery funds on our website, Recovery.gov. As many of you no doubt know, we built this new, state-of-the-art website so that we could provide you, the American people, with an inside look at how your money is being spent. On Oct. 15, therefore, we will be posting data from companies and other entities that received direct contracts from federal agencies. Two weeks later, on Oct. 30, we will disclose data from recipients receiving grants and loans.
We don't expect perfection in these initial data reports. Indeed, there will be errors and omissions in some reports, and still other recipients may not even bother to submit information. Given our focus on accountability and transparency, we are urging federal agencies to work closely with recipients to correct any problems in their reports. Agencies can point out errors, omissions or other problems, but only recipients can make changes in their reports -- and, then, only during a brief period. Over time, with so much public scrutiny of the data, we expect improved reporting; the number of recipients will grow and more information will be displayed on Recovery.gov.
White House: "[R]ecipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data." An October 29 White House press release repeatedly stated: "All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data -- including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature."
New York Times reported the jobs "come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program." On October 15, when the data was released, The New York Times reported, "The new jobs reported Thursday come from a small slice of a sliver of the $787 billion stimulus program: the roughly $16 billion worth of stimulus contracts that were awarded directly by federal agencies, of which about $2.2 billion has been spent so far." Recovery.gov shows that the $16 billion in federal contracts awarded, of which around $2.2 billion has been paid out, is a relatively small portion of the direct stimulus spending for contracts, grants, and loans. The following graphics were posted on Recovery.gov [accessed 10/23/09]:
Funds for contracts, grants, and loans are one portion of stimulus package. Recovery.gov states that the $787 billion stimulus package is comprised of three categories: 1) tax benefits, for which $62.5 billion has been paid out as of October 8; 2) contracts, grants, and loans, for which $47 billion has been paid out; and 3) extensions of entitlement benefits, of which $63.7 billion has been paid out:
Job data from stimulus "grants and loans" not yet available. Recovery.gov states, "As of Oct. 10, 2009, there were 112,219 total awards, 8% were federal contracts, 91.7% were grants, and 0.3% were loans." The job data from recipients of "grants and loans will be added on Oct. 30," according to the website.