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New math at work in California stimulus jobs count

Math and accounting errors have led several state agencies in California to exaggerate the number of jobs created or saved as the result of  federal stimulus funding.

A California State Bureau of Audits report found errors in figures submitted by five different state agencies totaling 617 phantom jobs, reports Deio de Brito of CaliforniaWatch.

It’s unclear from the story how many existing jobs were saved or new jobs created at the various agencies, though according to the story, the American Reinvestment and Reconstruction Act, known more commonly as the stimulus bill, created or saved a total of 54,000 jobs statewide.

The biggest errors, at the The Tax Credit Allocation Committee and Water Resources Board, occurred when officials crunched monthly numbers to create quarterly figures. Neglecting to divide the total by three to generate an average monthly figure, a total of 616 jobs were created that existed only on paper.  Whoops.

Errors at other agencies audited — the Department of Community Services and Development and the Department of Transportation — were small by comparison.

If the pattern is replicated among other recipients of ARRA aid, then these statistical inaccuracies rise to the level of S.N.A.F.U. If not, then not so much.

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