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Fiscal spending multipliers: evidence from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

  • Daniel J. Wilson

This paper estimates the “jobs multiplier” of fiscal spending using the state-level allocations of federal stimulus funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Specifically, I estimate the relationship between state-level federal ARRA spending and state employment outcomes from the time the Act was passed (February 2009) through the latest month of data (currently May 2010). Because actual state allocations of stimulus spending may be endogenous with respect to state economic outcomes, I instrument for stimulus spending using the state allocations that were anticipated immediately after the ARRA was passed, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Center for American Progress. To control for the counterfactual – what would have happened without the stimulus – I include several variables likely to be strong predictors of state employment growth. The results point to substantial heterogeneity in the impact of ARRA spending over time, across sectors, and across types of spending. The estimated jobs multiplier for total nonfarm employment is large and statistically significant for ARRA spending through March 2010, but falls considerably and becomes insignificant in April and May. The implied number of jobs created or saved by the spending is about 2.0 million as of March, but drops to 0.8 million as of May. Across sectors, the estimated impact of ARRA spending on construction employment is especially large, implying a 18.4% increase in employment (as of May 2010) relative to what it would have been without the ARRA. Lastly, I find that spending on infrastructure and other general purposes has a large positive impact, while spending on safety-net programs such as unemployment insurance and Medicaid reduces employment.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2010-17.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2010-17
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  1. Monacelli, Tommaso & Perotti, Roberto & Trigari, Antonella, 2010. "Unemployment fiscal multipliers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 531-553, July.
  2. John F. Cogan & Tobias Cwik & John B. Taylor & Volker Wieland, 2009. "New Keynesian versus Old Keynesian Government Spending Multipliers," NBER Working Papers 14782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Simple Analytics of the Government Expenditure Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 15714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gernot Müller & Giancarlo Corsetti & André Meier, 2009. "Fiscal Stimulus with Spending Reversals," IMF Working Papers 09/106, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Giancarlo Corsetti & André Meier & Gernot J. Müller, 2012. "Fiscal Stimulus with Spending Reversals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 878-895, November.
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