How many stimulus jobs does it take to change a light bulb?


Pointing out flaws in data is getting to be like shooting fish in a barrel (see here, here, here, here, here and here for examples). While reporters had to dig out those examples, a handful of records do the work for you.

In a field called “jobs_created”–one of 94 fields of data–the municipal government of Hastings, Neb., explained how they calculated the number of jobs created (2.6) by a $109,900 grant they’re using to replace “mercury street lamps with higher efficiency bulbs,” and “incandescent traffic signal bulbs with LED efficiency bulbs.” They explained:

…according to the formulas provided by DOE the replacement of street lamps will create 2.29 jobs. The replacement of traffic signal bulbs will create .31 jobs. Actually no new employees will be hired, we simply applied the DOE formulas to arrive at these numbers.

Now that’s transparency! Their entry in the “infrastructure_rationale” field, in which recipients are supposed to justify paving roads, fixing bridges, refurbishing buildings, and so on, is also a model for others to follow: “These projects do not involve any changes to existing infrastructure, just bulb replacement.”