ARRA Job Reporting: Changes

The updated job counting guidance for the second reporting period included the following measures:

  • Recipients were directed to divide the hours worked in the reporting quarter by the hours in a full-time schedule. Thus, a full-time job counts as one job, while a half-time job accounts for one half of a job. Recipients only track one set of numbers for each quarter. This approach responds to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and bipartisan Members of Congress to standardize and simplify the period of measurement.

The GAO also recommended that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) make "more explicit that 'jobs created or retained' are to be reported as hours worked and paid for with Recovery Act funds."

  • In response, we are clearly defining the terms for a "job created or retained" as those funded in the quarter by the Recovery Act. Jobs funded partially with Recovery Act funds will only be counted based on the proportion funded by the Recovery Act. Jobs funded with non-Recovery Act funds will not be counted. The new approach is an easier-to-use format for recipients.

These changes are designed to make definitions clear, simplify the process, and increase accuracy so we achieve the transparency and accountability the process was designed to promote.

ARRA Job Reporting: Questions & Answers

These questions and answers are based on information provided from the Federal Office of Management and Budget.

The Patrick- Murray Administration is committed to providing the American people with the best information possible. We are equally committed to making the information that we report easy to navigate and user-friendly.

The changes outlined in the new guidance -- linking job creation and retention directly to ARRA funding and removing subjective assessments -- will make it easier for recipients to identify supporting documentation. We firmly believe that the updated guidance to how jobs are counted are commonsense improvements and will make it easier for people to understand the true impact that the Recovery Act is having in their communities.

These questions and answers are based on information provided by the Federal Office of Management and Budget.

Why has the job counting methodology changed? Has the job counting started over?

This is an effort to make the reporting process as easy and as streamlined as possible, not start the job count over. The Office of Management and Budget has listened to recipients and outside experts on ways to improve the unparalleled data collection at The update to job counting is their latest effort.

Improvements to the reporting system should be expected each successive quarter.

What do the job estimates with the new methodology represent?

The data collected from the January recipient reports represent the total jobs directly funded with Recovery Act dollars (these data do not count indirect jobs, such as when Unemployment Insurance recipients spend their benefits and create more economic activity). This allows the public to see the job activity being specifically paid for using Recovery Act funds. In some cases, these funds are creating new jobs or sustaining jobs that would have been lost. In other cases, these funds are being used to pay for ongoing employment, thereby freeing up funds for other important activities and expenditures.

How does this differ from the job estimate from the October report?

In the October reporting period - our first reporting effort - job estimates captured a different but related measure - employment activity that would not have occurred without the enactment of the Recovery Act. This estimate was useful for isolating the specific impact the Recovery Act is having on job creation and avoiding layoffs. However, generating this type of estimate proved burdensome for recipients to report and challenging for auditors and others to validate.

Are the October job data inaccurate?


The October data provided reliable information directly from recipients about the use of their funding at the state and local level. That data provided an unparalleled look at the positive difference that the Recovery Act is having on the economy across the country.

Do you expect the new methodology to drive the jobs numbers up? Down? Same?

The update as to how jobs are counted is intended to make the reporting process simpler and more user-friendly. We do not yet know exactly what impact on the job numbers will be. What we do know is that the updates reflect the right public policy and are consistent with what we believe to be sound recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and input from bipartisan Members of Congress who are tracking this issue closely.

How should the October reports be compared with the January reports under this updated formula?

Both measures provide useful data on the job impact of Recovery Act dollars. However, they are not measuring the same type of impacts and thus comparing one number to the other would not be meaningful.

The two measures should be seen as complementing one another in providing an assessment of the overall job impact of Recovery Act dollars.

Will you be able to compare the October data with what you learn in January and in subsequent reporting periods?

The changes that we're making will mean that the October and January data won't be exactly comparable to each other. However, the data will continue to provide an unprecedented look at an important part of the Recovery Act's benefits at the local level: the job impact of direct spending on Recovery Act projects. The complete job impact of the Act-including both direct and indirect jobs-will continue to be published quarterly by the Council of Economic Advisors.

Will job estimates reported in future quarters be comparable to the data provided under the new methodology?


The new data that comes out at the end of January will serve as a baseline view of jobs being funded by Recovery Act dollars. While each quarter's report will stand on its own, future quarters will allow us to assess, as money is spent, how the overall impact on job activity changes.

The difference with this quarter is that, based upon input from Congress, GAO, and stakeholders, the jobs guidance has changed. No longer are recipients using methodologies for jobs--they are counting funded jobs. This change makes it a different snap shot and not comparable.

Recipients should be prepared to justify their job reporting estimates. Under the guidance, recipients must use reasonable judgment in determining the appropriate sources of information.

Created January 29, 2010. Information provided by the Recovery & Reinvestment Office.