Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.
Let's put aside our questions about how the White House defined "jobs created" and "jobs saved," and about the reliability of self-reporting by grant recipients, and about the absence of any consideration of the employment contraction that must have been caused by the extraction of $150 billion from the U.S. economy to spend on this stimulus program, and just take this claim at face value. Why should the administration be boasting about creating or saving only 650,000 jobs at the cost of $150 billion?
$150 billion in spending divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,769.231 in stimulus expenditure per job created or saved. According to the Social Security Administration, the United States national average wage for 2008 was 41,334.97.
Other things being equal (I have an economics degree, so I can say that in Latin, too: ceteris paribus), I would have expected the government to create or save at least five jobs for each $230K and change it spent.
Instead of boasting about those results, the White House should be auditing its books.