Economic stimulus: which states have gained the most jobs

The White House says the economic stimulus accounts for 640,000 jobs. But the picture is mixed across the US.

By , Staff writer

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    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden discusses the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (C) and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (R) in the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, Friday.
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Some 640,000 jobs exist nationwide as a direct result of the government's record economic stimulus program, the Obama administration reported Friday.

The White House released a detailed tally, allowing Americans to see how many jobs have been saved or created in their own state or ZIP code. California and North Carolina were among the states reaping the most jobs so far, on a per capita basis. Both those states have higher-than-average unemployment rates, and the administration highlighted this pattern.

"The Recovery Act is creating jobs where they are needed the most," White House economist Jared Bernstein said in a report accompanying the data, which are viewable at http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx.

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According to the Christian Science Monitor's initial review of the data, the White House report found that $159 billion in stimulus spending is providing nearly 2100 jobs for every million people in the country. That number, again, reflects direct impacts reported by states and businesses receiving the money.

California and North Carolina have each reaped more than 3,000 jobs per million people.

Although the White House appears to be correct that many hard-hit states have reaped above-average job gains, some states with higher-than-average unemployment lag behind. Florida shows about 1,600 jobs per million residents, and Ohio 1,500. Michigan and Nevada, hit hard by an automotive recession and housing slump, respectively, report job gains that are barely above average.

Friday's White House report covers much of the spending that has occurred under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act this year, but not all. It includes federal contracts and grants to states.

The report does not track the impact of expanded safety net programs (like unemployment insurance), tax cuts, or small business lending. Those programs are also having an impact on US consumer spending and hence on jobs.

Western states fared well.

The states with the biggest job gains, on a per capita basis, are Montana and Washington State (both with more than 5,000 per million residents). Alaska came in third. The states showing the fewest jobs were Texas and Pennsylvania, with about 800 and 600 jobs per million residents, respectively.

Teaching and construction jobs made up a large share of all jobs saved or created under the stimulus, thanks largely to aid flowing to state and local governments.

In a conference call with reporters, administration officials said the jobs also flowed in some cases to areas with lots of federal facilities (including the District of Columbia) or nuclear-waste cleanups under way.

Critics say the stimulus is failing to lift the job market, noting the continued rise in unemployment since its passage. Supporters say joblessness would be even worse without it. The data released is sure to generate more fodder for the debate.

Mr. Bernstein sought to defuse one criticism in the conference call, by saying that it's inaccurate to divide the total dollars spent by the jobs number to get a "cost per job" amount. That would leave out indirect effects, he said, plus "there's much more hiring in the pipeline" as the money allocated is not yet fully spent.

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