The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is out with its latest estimates of the effects of the stimulus package—officially the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)—on employment and incomes. For the fourth quarter of 2010, the CBO estimates that ARRA:
- raised real GDP by 1.1–3.5%
- lowered the unemployment rate by 0.7–1.9 points
- increased the number of people employed by 1.3–3.5 million
- increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by 1.8–5.0 million above what would have happened without ARRA
These are substantial numbers. Take GDP. The midpoint of the estimate is 2.3%. Real GDP is up 4.5% from its 2009 low. In other words, the StimPak accounts for about half the growth. Or employment. It’s up only a little over a million from its low; it would still be in the red without ARRA. And if you add 1.3 points to the December unemployment rate, it would be 10.7%, above its worst level of 10.1% in October 2009.
Of course, the stimulus is fading and the austerity party is getting the upper hand. That, and $100 oil, could make us nostalgic for early 2011.