PoliGraph: Kline’s Twitter claim could use a deeper look

Here’s a recent tweet from U.S. Rep. John Kline’s Twitter feed:

“2.5 yrs after stimulus, Minn. has LOST 49,500 jobs – a far cry from the 66,000 White House said would be CREATED in MN,” wrote Kline, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

Government stimulus is once again a hot topic in Washington, D.C., as President Barack Obama pressures Congress to pass a bill that he contends could keep or create 1.9 million jobs nationally.

Kline essentially gets his numbers right, but 140 characters on Twitter don’t tell the whole story.

The Evidence

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Minnesota had 2.7 million jobs in February 2009, when Obama signed the stimulus bill. At that time, the administration predicted that the legislation would create or preserve 3.5 million jobs nationally within two years, 66,000 of them in Minnesota.

Two and a half years later – a slightly longer timeframe than the White House’s – Kline claims that the state lost 49,500 jobs. As his source, Kline points to a memo drafted by Republicans on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in early September when the most recent jobs numbers available were from July.

Between February 2009 and July 2011, the state lost 44,000 jobs, according to BLS data. So, Kline’s estimate is off, but not by much.

Put in context, Kline’s claim is on much shakier ground.

First, Minnesota’s jobs outlook has bounced around a lot since the stimulus bill was passed, as it has in many states. In some months, the workforce shrank, and in others it expanded. In fact, the latest employment numbers for August show Minnesota has lost only 15,000 jobs since February 2009.

There are all sorts of complicated reasons why the workforce remains unstable. For instance, consumer demand is lagging, so there’s no need for companies to hire more workers to expand supply.

Further, Kline’s claim implies that the stimulus bill hasn’t created jobs, but that’s not true. In June of this year, between 1 million and 2.9 million people owed their jobs to the stimulus bill, according to an August 2011 report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

In Minnesota, roughly 61,000 stimulus jobs were created through the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a March 2011 report by the administration’s Council of Economic Advisors. That’s not the 66,000 the White House predicted back in 2009, but it is close.

The Verdict

Kline’s numbers are more or less correct, and so is his implication that Minnesota hasn’t regained the jobs it had back in February 2009. But his underlying implication that the stimulus bill hasn’t created jobs is false.

As a result, Kline’s tweet is misleading.

SOURCES

The White House, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: State-by-State Jobs Impact, Feb. 13, 2009

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Another Unhappy Labor Day for American Workers: Obama Stimulus Created More Unemployment and Debt, but Not the Jobs It Promised, Sept. 2, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment – August 2011, Sept. 16, 2011

The Congressional Budget Office, Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from April 2011 Through June 2011, August 2011

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, New CBO Report Finds Up to 2.9 Million People Owe Their Jobs to the Recovery Act, By Michael Leachman and Christine Mai, August 30, 2011

Executive Office of the President: Council of Economic Advisers, The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Sixth Quarterly Report, March 18, 2011

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