Did Delay in Stimulus Signing Cost Economy More Jobs?

Democratic lawmakers rushed to pass the economic stimulus bill last week after sounding alarms about the devastating toll inaction would take daily on the job market.

But once it passed, President Obama waited four days to sign it.

If the link between the $787 billion recovery package and the job market is as direct and immediate as Democratic leaders say it is, then could Obama's delay have cost the economy tens of thousands more jobs?

Based on the average daily job loss in January, four lost days amounts to more than 77,000 lost jobs.

In addition, four days is worth more than 35,000 foreclosure filings, based on averaging the 274,000 foreclosures and notices posted in January.

Of course, Obama delayed the signing during a three-day holiday weekend, and layoffs may have been put on hold in the spirit of Presidents Day.

But before the stimulus bill was passed, some of its supporters argued that every hour of delay meant 1,000 jobs lost. Democratic leaders sounded an urgent tone up to and after the signing of the spending and tax-cut plan.

"As more Americans lose their jobs every day and carry the heavy burden of providing for their families in our distressed economy, President Obama and Senate Democrats understand that sitting idly by is not an option," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a written statement after the Senate passed the final version just before midnight Friday.

"We'll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done," Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday.

The president, who spent the weekend with his family in Chicago, signed the bill into law in Denver Tuesday afternoon, presumably triggering the most immediate benefits, which will include unemployment benefits, Medicaid and food stamps.

The White House explained that it waited until Tuesday to sign the bill because the clerk of the House didn't deliver it in its enrolled form until mid-day Monday.

That meant it took longer to prepare the bill for Obama's signature than it took for lawmakers to read the final compromise version in its printed form.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle conceded that they didn't have enough time to comb through the entire 1,100-page bill. The House published final language online at about 11 p.m. ET Thursday -- and members approved it just 15 hours later.

But the past is the past. The White House restated Tuesday that The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, almost entirely in the private sector.