The Agony of Tracking Job Creation

You’ve seen the news. Arizona’s 15th Congressional district created 30 stimulus jobs. But there is no 15th district in Arizona. Arizona only has eight Congressional districts. What happened?

According to the administration, “Some recipients clearly don’t know what congressional district they live in, so they appear to be just throwing in any number. We expected all along that recipients would make mistakes on their congressional districts, on jobs numbers, on award amounts, and so on. Human beings make mistakes.”

In other words, the data is as good as the recipient filling out the application.

ABC News reports there are phantom districts in Oklahoma and Iowa.  And in Connecticut 25 jobs appeared with zero dollars spent.

That is why the Obama administration has stripped 60,000 jobs from its report. Twelve stimulus recipients reported “unrealistic data,” such as a recipient in Talladega, Alabama, which reported 5000 jobs created with $42,000.

This gets to a difficult problem in stimulus tracking – it’s hard to follow $787 billion on the ground from Washington D.C.

If you want to see how stimulus dollars are being spent in your town, visit newly-relaunched Stimulus Watch 2.0.

After a few minutes on the site, I discovered that $3.6 million is being spent in Avenel, N.J. on “various energy-efficiency shovel ready projects”. Yet, the place of performance is Bayonne, NJ – a good 15 miles away. Is the Bayonne Housing Authority managing the HUD grant for work being done in Avenel? According to The Star-Ledger, BHA received $3.6 million for a variety of projects all within Bayonne.

On closer inspection, here’s the trouble. Bayonne NJ is 07002 and Avenel is 07001. A simple typo in a government data-tracking database somehwere down the line.

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