Thursday, December 22, 2011

High-Speed Rail is Criticized for Counting Construction Jobs the Same Way as Metropolitan Water District

This article in the San Jose Mercury News was interesting (.)  High-Speed Rail backers have been claiming it will create 1 million jobs, by adding up all the person-years of employment into one number.

California high-speed rail jobs estimate too good to be true
Though California's high-speed train faces an intensifying backlash over its $99 billion price tag, political leaders from Washington to Sacramento justify the cost by touting another huge number: 1 million jobs the rail line is supposed to create.

But like so many of the promises made to voters who approved the bullet train, those job estimates appear too good to be true...

"Job-years and jobs are like apples and Twinkies, they're not even in the same food group," said Elizabeth Alexis, a Palo Alto analyst who testified before Congress about the project last week. "It's not accurate, and it's misleading...

Government agencies routinely calculate temporary construction jobs by the year, but it's unusual for public officials to lump all those estimates together. For instance, the White House tells recipients of stimulus funds not to count workers multiple times like officials have done on the rail project...

What's more, officials have not taken into account the potential job losses from the railroad, which will displace many businesses along the train route, including several along the Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. And within the last month, the California Legislative Analyst's Office said other state programs could cut jobs so the state can afford the $20 billion debt to pay its portion of the rail line

The Mercury News could write a virtually idential article about the Metropolitan Water District study that estimates building isolated conveyance will create 133,000 jobs.  The issues are the same.  From the MWD home page:
Construction of Tunnel for State Water Supplies Could Create Nearly 130,000 Jobs in California

The results of a report estimate that nearly 130,000 jobs would be created by the construction and operation of two conveyance system options to deliver water to Californians. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California commissioned The Brattle Group to conduct this independent research on behalf of the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP).
Personally, I am glad to see the bad press on this.  I have been complaining about the increasing trend towards reporting person-years of employment as jobs for quite a while.  I would like to see it eradicated.