A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Real Jobs, Fake Districts?


The Obama administration’s Recovery.gov Web site is supposed to compile data on actual, real-life jobs filled by companies and states that have received real money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the stimulus). But the site claims that jobs exist in congressional districts that don’t.

This is a site, by the way, that says it "allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse."

ABC News reported the discrepancies Nov. 16, pointing out that 39 jobs were supposedly created in imaginary districts in Iowa, and in the fictitious 42nd district in Connecticut, 25 jobs were created, somewhat magically, with zero dollars. McClatchy Newspapers found that South Carolina’s supposed districts included one numbered 00 and another 25 — but the state only has six real districts.

The administration claims the jobs numbers are still legit, blaming the made-up districts on human error. Vice President Joe Biden sat down with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" last night and pinned the problem on "bad civics classes" — or perhaps he meant the lack thereof — for 70 fund recipients who didn’t know what district they lived in and just wrote down some number. Biden said that out of 130,000 entities reporting how they spent the stimulus dollars and how many jobs were created, 70 made a mistake. "Seventy, when they asked what district were they from put it as, thank God it’s not true, they said there are 14 congressional districts in Arizona. Imagine all those Republicans."

When we checked the site today, 22 districts were listed for Arizona, including an 86th district and one called 00. In real life, Arizona has eight districts.

Biden maintained that the data is checked, but "the initial report comes in cold."

We’ve been skeptical in the past about the Obama adminstration’s claims of having "created or saved" hundreds of thousands of jobs when in fact the economy was losing jobs. Those claims were just estimates. Now the administration is purporting to count real jobs — and we’re still finding reason to be skeptical.