6% Believe Stimulus Created Jobs

Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft and The Hill‘s Walter Alarkon have found an interesting statistic in a week-old CBS/NYT poll: “just 6 percent of Americans believe that [Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package]created jobs, even though independent economists estimate that it has saved or created more than 1 million jobs.”

stimulus-six-percent

That’s pretty amazing since, Jason Mattera tweets, “more people believe that Bush knew [about] 9/11 than believe that Porkulus created jobs.”  Indeed, a Rasmussen poll a couple years back had 22% believing that.  There’s some controversy over the validity of that poll but more than 6% believe just about anything.

These sorts of polls are annoying.  Most people simply have no basis for making judgments on technical matters like this; indeed, economists can only take a very educated guess.  So, asking Joe Public about such matters is not very helpful.

Politically, of course, it matters very much what people think.   Perception often is reality in politics, as in many other areas of life.

On that score, what’s interesting to me is the trendlines.  On the one hand, more people believe that the stimulus has created jobs than they did in July.  Indeed, there’s been a 50% jump!   But, at the same time, the plurality has shifted into a hardened “Will not create jobs” camp while the combined “has/will create” has dropped from 57% to 47%.  Despite the economic consensus being the other way.

For what it’s worth, my own informed — but not expert — view on this is that the stimulus certainly created some large number of jobs — the one million figure seems reasonable enough — but that the indirect spending of $787 billion was a decidedly poor way to do it and that we received a predictably poor return on our investment.   I also happen to believe we’d have done essentially the same thing under a President McCain.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    The only way to interpret the 6% having a sensible answer is that they don’t think it has created “net jobs” relative to pre-crisis levels. In that they’d be right.

    It is insensible, on the other hand, to think that hundreds of billions can be spent “immaculately” without anyone being hired, without creating a job.

    (The rational middle ground would be how much job creation could be expected, or considered a success, in this economic environment. That is best done, of course, without callow references to old, bad, economic projections!)




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  2. PD Shaw says:

    Most people simply have no basis for making judgments on technical matters like this; indeed, economists can only take a very educated guess.

    I largely agree, except about the public having “no basis” to answer this question. Around here, you can drive down roads with signs announcing that the potholes being filled and the breakdown lanes being expanded are paid with by stimulus money. These programs are advertised and people can just as easily come away with the view that no new jobs are being created. The government is looking after its own.




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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Many of the “jobs saved or created” that have been reported have been in the public schools and, unfortunately, those doing the reporting have been so eager to show results that I guess most people just don’t believe anything they’re hearing. Additionally, is meeting a scheduled pay raise a “job saved or created”? That’s a serious question, not snark. I’m not sure the answer is completely obvious, at least not if the objective is economic stimulus via deficit spending.




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  4. Brian Knapp says:

    For what it’s worth, my own informed — but not expert — view on this is that the stimulus certainly created some large number of jobs — the one million figure seems reasonable enough — but that the indirect spending of $787 billion was a decidedly poor way to do it and that we received a predictably poor return on our investment. I also happen to believe we’d have done essentially the same thing under a President McCain.

    Thank you. I don’t necessarily agree, but it is nice to have a clear and reasoned opinion.

    It’s ridiculous, in my opinion, to talk about jobs “created or saved” as “job” is never defined in the discourse.

    Plus, ALL JOBS ARE TEMPORARY! Successful careers are most often the cumulation of several jobs either by one or several employers.

    Since the trend in corporations is to contract out work, and they have NO loyalty to workers, we need to start thinking in terms of “projects” or “contracts” as “jobs”.

    If there was greater, viable portability in health insurance, we could permanently “create” employed people by encouraging entrepreneurship through independent contractors and encourage skills based learning to achieve it.

    Plus, because of the cognizance of potentially indeterminant spans of time between “jobs”, we will encourage more personal fiscal responsibility.

    Health insurance seems to be the number one hurdle here.




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  5. Rick DeMent says:

    …Porkulus

    Wow James … funny … did you come up with that?

    An odd name since 40% of the bill was a tax cut, was that 315 billion also ill “spent” (at least you used the right verb for tax cut), or just the balance of it?

    Funny I read something where on 12% realizes that 40% of the bill was a tax cut. I wonder if the 6% are part of the 12%?

    I also happen to believe we’d have done essentially the same thing under a President McCain.

    True dat. Of course even a bigger part would have been tax cuts probably targeted at the wealthy. God … they would have gotten their wall street bonuses, and a tax cut how cool would that have been.




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  6. Rick DeMent says:

    I agree with Brian and would go one further. Universal single payer health care would be the biggest jobs creation move we could make. Imagine the entrepreneurial tsunami that would be unleashed if workers in the US were not chained to their dead end jobs by the cost of protecting their family from financial ruin. It would be like a tax cut except that it would actually produce economic results.




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  7. anjin-san says:

    if workers in the US were not chained to their dead end jobs

    You are talking about individual freedom, and the GOP is not going to have any of that. Well, not unless we are talking about high net worth individuals.




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