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