The National Association of Business Economics yesterday published the results of its quarterly survey of its 68 members who work in private sector firms. The survey asked them to evaluate the impact of the $787 billion stimulus legislation passed at the beginning of last year, and 73% said employment at their companies was no higher (or, for that matter, lower) than it would have been without the stimulus legislation. Sixty-eight people is a pretty small sample size, but the idea that 73% of any group of economists agrees on something has its own special impact. It is probably fair to assume, too, that the NABE members who were polled work in large-type companies. Not many Mom and Pop start-ups have economists on the payroll, and it could well be that the survey therefore cannot account for any job growth that happened at the small business level.
Still, it seems clear that the “stimulus” bill will eventually be viewed as an incredibly expensive bust. The unemployment rate is much higher than was promised when the bill was enacted, and most of the spending under the bill seems to have been geared toward protecting government jobs, not creating or preserving jobs in the private sector. The results of the NABE survey undoubtedly would have been different if economists employed by federal, state, and local government entities were asked about the effect of the stimulus bill on employment with those entities.