$278K per Stimulus Job? White House Says No.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is just the latest Republican to be publicizing a Weekly Standard report claiming that President Obama’s own economists claim the stimulus bill cost $278,000 per job.

The Speaker tweeted the story this morning, claiming that the “economy would be generating job growth faster if Dems hadn’t passed the ‘stimulus.’”

The Weekly Standard arrived at its figure by dividing the cost to date of the stimulus bill, $666 billion, by the low end of the estimate of how many jobs the Council of Economic Advisers reported had been created by the legislation, 2.4 million.

The Council of Economic Advisers report, issued last Friday, states that in the first quarter of 2011, the stimulus bill “has raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 and 3.6 million.”

The White House has long disputed the math of dividing the cost of the stimulus by the number of jobs created – we asked a similar question back in October 2009, when that computation resulted in the comparable bargain of $72,408 per stimulus job, as you can read at this blog post .

Then, as now, White House officials note that the spending didn't just fund salaries, it also went to the actual costs of building things -- construction materials, new factories, and such. So the math is flawed, White House officials say, since reporters are not including the permanent infrastructure in the computation, thus producing an inflated figure. White House officials also questioned why the Weekly Standard would use the lower figure from the projection of the number of jobs created, and noted that the temporary nature of the stimulus bill meant that its impact would diminish over time, when the private sector began hiring again. In other words, the number of jobs created at its peak – as many as 3.6 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2011 report – would be more appropriate, White House officials say.

-Jake Tapper

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