The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has been in effect long enough for news to come out about some of the specifics it contains. I’m especially interested in these specifics because when I put together a book about the plan, Great Jobs in the President’s Stimulus Plan, I did not have access to many details about the bill. In fact, it was not yet a bill when I did the research, so I had to do my best to anticipate the contents of the legislation on the basis of documents released by the Obama transition team. Of course, the legislation changed somewhat as it worked its way through Congress, but the essential shape of the stimulus plan changed only slightly.
Of the documents that have come out about the stimulus plan, one contains projections for the number of jobs to be created or saved in each state. I wondered whether the distribution of jobs being stimulated around the country would reflect any favoritism, so I divided the jobs projected for each state by that state’s 2008 population, as estimated by the Census Bureau. I found a range of variation from a high of 98 jobs per citizen in Mississippi to a low of 49 in the District of Columbia. The variation is not as great it appears from these two extremes, because both Mississippi and DC are outliers. The state that comes in at second place has a figure of 93, and as you go lower on the list from the number-two position, the difference between each state and the one ranked next lowest is less than 1, with one exception, until you get down to the last two, Wyoming (with a figure of 67), and DC. If you’re conversant with statistics, you should note that the standard deviation within that range of 49 is only 7.4.
The President’s home state of Illinois comes in right at the middle, in 24th place, and the Vice President’s state of Delaware ranks near the bottom, in 45th place. The home state of the Speaker of the House is in third place, but Nevada, home of the Senate Majority Leader, is third from last. It’s also interesting to note that the top 10 states ranked this way are represented by an equal number of Democratic and Republican senators.
I conclude that the legislation was not designed to produce a job impact that would unfairly benefit the current political leadership.
Another document shows the projected jobs to be created or saved by congressional district. I haven’t tried to do similar analysis of these projections, because I don’t have good figures for the population of each congressional district. If you view this document, take the projections with a sizable lump of salt. In a geographical unit as small as a congressional district, there are too many unpredictable factors that may shape the effects of the stimulus.