Last year, Ron Hesselink of Rudyard Electric Service took a job paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was installing 50 lights in a fish hatchery.
Hesselink said it took two people three days to do the job which paid $11,933.
It got reported as one job "created," according to Recovery.org, the U.S. Government's reporting site for the stimulus act.
"Realistically, for six total days labor, does that create much?" Hesselink asked. "It really didn't create a job. ... If they are calling that a 'job created' for fulltime, that is real misleading."
The jobs "created" and "saved" have become a political football thrown around by the White House in its attempts to lift up its embattled stimulus plan. White House officials predicted that unemployment would be at or below 7 percent if the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were passed. Instead, national unemployment was at 9.5 percent for June of 2010.
In an analysis of the stimulus that appeared in the Lansing State Journal, the White House now projects that the stimulus has created or saved between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs, including 102,000 in Michigan.
But what is a "created" or "saved" job? And how is it calculated?
The actual calculations are confusing. Both federal and state officials pointed to an Office of Management and Budget Sept. 15 memo when asked to explain just how FTE calculations are made.
The memo states that FTE is calculated based on aggregate hours worked so temporary or part-time labor is not overstated. However, the reporting of hours worked is done by the recipient and accepted as fact by the government.
"What we are reporting is what the recipient reported to us," said Ed Pound, spokesman for Recovery.org, the federal government site that collects and reports stimulus data. "We are hoping they reported accurately."
Beth Bingham, director of the Michigan Economic Recovery Office, said the state doesn't have a way to distinguish between a "created" or "saved" job.
"The data is not collected that way," Bingham said.
Instead, that state just goes by, "what was reported," Bingham said.
Pound said the definition of jobs "created" and "saved" was confusing. So his organization now just goes by "jobs funded" by the stimulus. Pound acknowledges the White House still uses the "created" and "saved" terms, but said that was for political reasons.
Yet, Recovery.org still posts on its website the number of jobs "created" by each project.
For example, according to Recovery.org, the Gourdie-Fraser surveying firm in Traverse City "created" five jobs when it surveyed Saugatuck property.
According to an email from Gary Wilson of Gourdie-Fraser, that job involved five people and took 20 days. One person was brought back after being laid off to do the work..
State Representative Dave Agema, R-Kentwood, said that when most people hear jobs are created, they think it is a full-time, 12-month job.
Agema said that if three-days of work by two people was being called creating a job, it was "garbage."
"It's deceitful of the government to imply that jobs that last three days are real jobs," Agema said. "It's typical of government to be overstating the jobs created. You can not trust the government with the numbers they give us. The stimulus did not and does not work as they have tried to get us to believe."