New Hampshire stimulus report overstates jobs created

By Grant Bosse on November 20, 2009
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Over half of jobs credited to stimulus already existed

New Hampshire’s stimulus report card credits the federal spending bill with hiring 2,000 teachers that were already in the classroom. Federal reporting requirements forced state officials to quantify the number of hours paid for with stimulus money, and count them as new jobs even when local school districts hadn’t hired any new teachers.

Bud Fitch

Bud Fitch

The state’s report to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board lists 3,007 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs created or saves as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal Recovery.gov database also includes job reports from individual grant recipients, and it says New Hampshire has received $695 million in stimulus funding so far, which has saved or created 3,538 jobs. But analysis of these reports by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy shows that over half of these jobs belong to New Hampshire teachers who were in the classroom before the stimulus package ever passed.

According to the New Hampshire’s October 20th report to the federal government, stimulus funds had paid for 3.8 million hours of work as of September 30th. The state translates that to 3,007 full time jobs. Of these totals, 2.6 million hours and 2,041 jobs came from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for education. New Hampshire Stimulus Director Orville “Bud” Fitch says federal regulations dictated how he accounting for the jobs created by the federal funding.

The state report says that Nashua received just short of $5 million for education, and credits that funding with saving or creating 112 teaching jobs. Franklin supposedly created 35 jobs with the money. The report includes 182 jobs in the Manchester School District, 87 jobs in Derry, and 45 jobs in Claremont. But these figures don’t reflect the hiring and firing decisions of school boards this past spring.

State Education Spreadsheet

Fitch says the state passed along the federal funding to local school districts as part of its Adequacy payment formula, but he says neither the state nor the federal government can control what local budget writers did with the stimulus windfall.

“There is no claim that these are new jobs or that they are not. There is no claim that these employees would have been laid off if these ARRA funds were not paid, or that they would not have been,” Fitch explains. “The jobs reporting procedure in this program as we understand and have applied it does not require determining if the person who got paid would not have been paid if ARRA funds were not received.”

Fitch says his office calculated the average salary and benefits of teachers in each school district and the average hours worked to determine how many hours were paid for with stimulus money, but he admits those teachers would have been on the job with or without the federal grants. Some New Hampshire communities used the extra aid to increase school budget. Others transferred resources from the school to the municipal side of the budget, or used the extra money to lower the local property tax rate. The state report provides no evidence that any teachers were hired specifically because of the stimulus, or that teachers would have been fired without it.

“In light of the State’s constitutional duty to pay for the costs of an opportunity for an adequate education, it is virtually certain all of these individuals who were paid with ARRA funds would have been working had no ARRA funds been received,” Fitch tells the Josiah Bartlett Center. “While it is not knowable in hindsight, it is most likely that budget cuts would have happened in other areas of government, not with these jobs, if no federal State Fiscal Stabilization funds were received.”

The federal stimulus database has come under increasing criticism for the inaccuracy of its information. This week, the Josiah Bartlett Center reported that Recovery.org has mistakenly identified stimulus funds going to four New Hampshire Congressional Districts that don’t exist. The Washington Examiner has published an interactive map charting over 75,000 bogus jobs in the database, and the Obama Administration was forced to remove 60,000 jobs from its stimulus claim. Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devany told the Associated Press on Thursday the rash of errors made it impossible to accurately know how many jobs the stimulus package has created.

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