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Is bailout job creation tally accurate?

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Today The White House releases its latest tally of the jobs that have been created by the $787-billion federal bailout fund. But some are wondering just how accurate those numbers are. Rico Gagliano has more.

Rico Gagliano: The first job creation numbers were reported earlier this month by contractors — businesses which got Recovery Act money straight from the government, to hire workers for specific projects. Those contractors said they’d created over 30,000 jobs. But depending on which news source you read, that number is either several thousand too high or too low.

Either way, John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute says it’s clear contractors made errors in their reports. But not because the process is too complicated.

JOHN IRONS: In a lot of ways this might even be too easy. They can either download a spreadsheet and upload it to the government Web site, or there’s actually an online form. Kinda the way you’d go about buying a book on Amazon.

That simplicity, Irons says, could lead contractors to be less careful with their numbers. The administration, meanwhile, says many of the reporting errors have been corrected. And the numbers due out today will be more accurate. Even so, Irons says the number won’t give the whole picture.

IRONS: This is only, again, a relatively moderate-sized slice of the overall recovery pie. It won’t include any tax cuts, it won’t include a lot of the aid to state and local government that were included in the Recovery Act.

How many jobs those initiatives create will be harder to quantify and it could be months before we get a solid estimate.

I’m Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.

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