Political leaders and business owners as of late have taken the weak job market and unemployment statistics and have started to use them to their advantage, touting job creation numbers that some look at with a very skeptical eye.
The first instance involves the proposed Keystone Pipeline. TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline that would transport crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region in Alberta to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, stated that approval of the pipeline would result in 20,000 direct jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs. However, the U.S. State Department found very different numbers, reporting that only 5,000 direct jobs would be created over two years and permanent jobs would only be in the hundreds. As you can see, the difference in job creation prediction is very large.
In a somewhat similar situation, political leaders in Washington and California alike boast high job creation numbers in relation to a high-speed railway they want to construct. The proposed train and railway has gained much attention due to the $99 billion price tag that comes with it. Possibly in hopes of swaying popular opinion, political leaders in favor of the railway boast that its construction would create one million jobs. However, a review by the Mercury News found that the railway would realistically only create 20,000-60,0000 jobs on average each year and employ only a few thousands of people permanently.
“They have a really hard sales pitch with the real numbers, so they’ve fudged the numbers,” said state Sen. Doug LaMalfa in the Mercury News, a Chico-area Republican who is introducing legislation to send the rail line back to voters. “C’mon, a million people working on a 520-mile railroad? I practically laughed out loud when (I heard that).” One million people is more than the combined workforce of San Jose and San Francisco. That amount is likely exaggerated and unrealistic, yet leaders still continue to boast the number. “The facts are clear: Over 1 million good-paying jobs will be created,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement last week.
How can they continue to boast this number and back it up with facts? Like many other numbers tacked onto hopeful projects by the government, the numbers are skewed. According to the Mercury News, state leaders counted each year of work as a separate job. Therefore, if one person were to work on the construction of the railway for three years, that would technically be counted as three jobs created. Furthermore, the jobs created in their estimate don’t include only direct workers on the railway, but includes two indirect workers such as restaurant workers for every one construction worker.
Taking that into account, the one million jobs created is actually no where near that number. Unless, of course, the project leaders intend on hiring new workers for the construction each year and if that’s the case, can you really consider the temporary work as a job? Those that lose their job each year after working on the railway would have to find yet another job, placing the strain back onto the job market.