MnDOT cut job numbers tied to stimulus

We’ve been skeptical for months about stimulus job counts. When the White House today came out with new job creation numbers, it didn’t take long for MPR reporter Mark Zdechlik to find some Minnesota recipients saying the job creation credited to them didn’t add up.

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But there was one count I really thought was reliable. Road and bridge construction projects. This afternoon, however, I find the Minnesota Department of Transportation slashed its job numbers tied to stimulus.

Last month the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported 3,448 jobs created or saved via stimulus funded road projects at the end of August. It’s the number MnDOT was using at the Legislature.

Late this afternoon, I go back to check for an update, thinking I’ll see a higher number. Instead I find that MnDOT has slashed the number of jobs it said were created / saved by stimulus.

A note with the data now says:

Previously Mn/DOT reported that 3,448 jobs were created or saved as of August 9, 2009. This number represents the total number of people that worked on an ARRA (stimulus) funded job, during the month of August 2009. Mn/DOT is currently reporting 1038.67 Full Time Equivilant (sic) jobs created or saved.

This number represents the number of Full Time Equivilants (sic), taking the total number of hours that people actually worked on the ARRA jobs and dividing that number by the total possible hours of full time employment, as reported on Form 1512 to the Office of Management and Budget.

Count me as a chump. Zdechlik reported back in early August that MnDOT had pulled back from its assertion that 27 jobs could be directly and indirectly created for every $1 million in spending.

But the 3,448 count was still there and that’s what officials were still using at the Legislature a month ago.

Seems like light years away from February, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty was touting Federal Highway Administration numbers saying Minnesota would get 5,000 jobs just from the first 60 greater Minnesota projects.

There’s no doubt money is finding its way into Minnesota’s economy. But whose data do we trust?

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