The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.I am all for saving teacher jobs, but the saving of teacher jobs is something of a spin job as well.
On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.
Although the stimulus was initially sold in large part as a public works program, only about 80,000 of the jobs that were claimed Friday were in construction.
Of course, counting jobs that were saved can be a squishier proposition than counting jobs that were created. Teachers have been laid off in some areas — and budget officials say that there would have been more layoffs without the stimulus money — but it is difficult to say with certainty how many teachers would have been laid off without that money.
Here's the thing, a public teacher is a public employee, it is not a private sector job that creates wealth and drives the economy forward. Sure a teacher could be considered and economic multiplier, but they are long term multiplier, it can take years, decades even for their impact to be felt. But it is a feel good metric that applies in a politically popular area.
The fact remains, without the stimulus money continuing to flow, you cannot keep these teachers employed unless the economy recovers and generates tax revenue to keep these teachers employed. Perhaps the better economic recovery action would have been to allow those teachers to be laid off, looking for other work or acting as entrepreneurs themselves.