The 2013 annual report for the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) is out. Let’s give them credit for timeliness, at a minimum, being that 2013 is not even done yet.
The report is a great example of ridiculous government claims. I took the time to add up all the “jobs created” claims for each of the various subsidies on pages 6 and 7. The report claims that the work of the SLDC and its various subsidies (TIF, etc.) will result in 18,198 new jobs. If I added in their “jobs retained” or “construction job” claims, it would be even higher.
Let me give you an idea of how completely bogus these claims are. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entire Saint Louis metropolitan region only added 13,500 jobs in the year from July 2012 to July 2013. That is ALL job creation in our entire 2.5 million-person metro area. Yet the SLDC is claiming its actions in 2013, which only reflect subsidized jobs within the city of Saint Louis, will create more than 18,000 jobs. (To be clear, they are not claiming all the jobs came in 2013 or just within one year.)
These stats bring to mind the comments of economist Dick Netzer when presented with preposterous claims of success by economic development officials (p. 134):
“Who needs oil wells, when a state can be another Kuwait just by increasing the budget of a tiny agency?”
Let me repeat this. This city’s economic development arm (which is now combined with the county, but these stats are city-only) is claiming that the projects they are subsidizing in 2013 will produce almost 5,000 more jobs than the compilers of economic data at the BLS say were created in our entire region by all types of job growth during approximately the same period. (I recognize there is some gross vs. net difference here, but the claims are so entirely out of whack that it does not really matter. I’ll explain further in comments if anyone wants me to.)
A state audit found that the Missouri Quality Jobs Program has claimed to generate almost 27,000 jobs, but in fact had generated slightly more than 7,000. This is the same basic thing. These numbers from the SLDC should be taken with the same grains of salt (and subsidized salt, at that).
The idea that governments should be empowered to take other people’s money to support government-sanctioned, targeted business investments is absurd. Their evidence of government success is, too often, simply made up.