A recent post in The Weekly Standard has claimed that the the jobs created by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package have cost $278,000 each to create.
No, says the White House via USA Today, other expenses consumed by the stimulus render the $278,000 per job created figure incorrectly high.
While, as others have noted, it may be ultimately impossible to specify exactly how much any given job created by federal tax spending and borrowing actually costs to create, let us at least try to evaluate the effort.
If we simply discount The Weekly Standard’s figure of $278,000 per job created by 80% – a rather substantial if arbitrary discount – that yields us a figure of $55,600 per job created. Does that figure seem reasonable, that is to say, accurate? Is $55,600 per job created a good cost for us to pay federally, collectively, to produce a job that was otherwise not being created at the time?
Let us go further and take ten per cent of the original $278,000 figure: is $27,800 a good cost for us to pay collectively to produce a job that was otherwise not being created at the time?
What would be a good cost per job created that all might agree on?
While there are obviously deeper subtleties to be considered here – we are not exactly manufacturing jobs, like lollipops, on the assembly line of Government Jobs, Inc.; much of what we are talking about actually involves goosing the private sector into such job creation in various ways that, like any artificial stimulus, may or may not be good to the long term health of the system so stimulated – both sides in this dispute are touting “jobs created” as the index for measuring the success or failure of the actions taken.
So, as a taxpayer of good will who does not enjoy seeing your fellow citizens without useful, economically productive work (or even if you are not), what would be a good, fair average (understanding jobs will differ in nature) figure to spend collectively to create any given job that was otherwise not being created at the time?
H. M. Stuart