A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Hoekstra’s Baseless Jobs Claim


Pete Hoekstra, a former Michigan congressman running for Senate, falsely claims in a TV ad that President Obama’s stimulus “lost 2.6 million more jobs.” Since the stimulus became law on Feb. 17, 2009, the U.S. has lost about 428,000 jobs, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says job losses would have been more severe during the recession without the stimulus.

Hoekstra left Congress in 2011 after running unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan in 2010. Now, he hopes to capture the Republican nomination for Senate and run against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November. He attracted national attention for running a controversial ad on Super Bowl Sunday depicting a Chinese woman thanking Stabenow for borrowing money from China. His latest ad, “Spend,” attacks Washington spending — singling out the federal health care law and the stimulus in particular.

In the ad, Hoekstra says, “In spite of what the media says, this race is really our chance to tell Washington to spend it not.” He then goes on to say, “Not on a failed stimulus,” while the text on the screen shows these words: “Stimulus? Lost 2.6 million more jobs.”

It’s not clear how Hoekstra comes up with 2.6 million lost jobs. We called the Hoekstra campaign and emailed his communications director, but we received no response. It is possible that he’s using outdated jobs figures. Our friends at Politifact reported that Virginia Senate candidate George Allen was right Feb. 17, 2011, when he said in a press release marking the second anniversary of the stimulus that the nation had lost 2.6 million jobs since Obama signed the law. But that was then, and this is now.

The economy has been adding jobs for months. On Feb. 3, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 243,000 jobs in January, raising the total non-farm, seasonally adjusted employment figure to 132,409,000. That’s 428,000 fewer jobs than the U.S. had in February 2009, when Obama signed the stimulus bill into law.

Also, as we have written on several occasions, the CBO says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did indeed create jobs. The CBO says the stimulus, at its peak, increased employment by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million people in the third quarter of 2010, compared with what would have happened without it.

— Eugene Kiely