The economic stimulus law added between 1 million to 2.1 million workers to employment rolls by the end of last year, a new report released Tuesday by congressional economists said.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study also said the $862 billion stimulus added between 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points to the growth of the economy in 2009. The controversial stimulus law combined tax breaks for individuals and businesses with lots of government spending.
The report reflects agreement among economists that the measure boosted the economy. But the wide range of estimates means it won't resolve the debate over how effective the stimulus has been.
The White House says the stimulus bill has created 2 million jobs and will add another 1.5 million this year as economic recovery continues to take hold.
CBO projects that the stimulus measure to have a greater impact this year, boosting gross domestic product by 1.4 to 4 percentage points and lowering the unemployment rate by 0.7 to 1.8 percentage points.
The report said the most efficient parts of the stimulus include infrastructure projects such as road- and bridge-building and more generous unemployment benefits. On the other hand, the popular first-time homebuyer tax credit isn't a very efficient use of stimulus dollars, the report said.
The economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession in December of 2007, though job losses have slowed in the past couple of months.
The stimulus measure has earned mixed grades from a public weary of a bad economy and increasingly concerned about out-of-control budget deficits. Democrats are seeking to renew several parts of the stimulus, however, including aid for state governments and extended unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term jobless.
The White House acknowledges the long-term debt burden of the stimulus measure will place a slight drag on the economy in future years.