WASHINGTON — More than 640,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Obama's economic stimulus plan, the government said Friday, and the White House declared the nation on track to meet the president's goal of 3.5 million by the end of next year.
New job numbers from businesses, contractors, state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities were released, showing 640,329 positions credited to the stimulus, according to the independent federal board monitoring the program's progress.
Teachers and other education employees represent the largest number of jobs in the report — about 325,000. With state budgets in crisis, federal aid helped governors avoid major cuts in education, which officials said spared many teachers and school workers from the unemployment line.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said "it's bewildering" to see the Obama administration's job-creation claims.
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White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said the figures show that, when adding in jobs linked to $288 billion in tax cuts, the stimulus has created or saved more than 1 million jobs.
Government recovery plans — everything from the $787 billion stimulus to tax credits for buying new homes to government deals on new cars — are credited with helping the economy grow again after a long and deep recession.
But the job market has yet to show signs of recovery, putting pressure on the White House to show that the stimulus was worth its hefty price. The economy has shed millions of jobs since Obama signed the stimulus in February, giving Republicans ammunition to say the government is spending too much for too little effect.
The White House said the latest report bolstered its case that the recession would have been far worse without the stimulus — a package of government spending, tax cuts, state aide and social programs.
The numbers released Friday have limitations, since calculating "jobs saved" will always produce an inexact estimate, and collecting data from so many sources is certain to produce errors.