In a televised debate hosted by Hawaii News Now, Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Hanabusa argued that the federal stimulus program helped create almost 2,000 jobs in Hawaii.

“For me, it is always what’s best for Hawaii. For Hawaii, the stimulus program has created 1,931 direct jobs.” (Hanabusa’s comments begin at 17:10.)

When it comes to job creation and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, any regular reader of the news can tell you there has been some controversy over the cited figures.

One only need to Google “How many jobs has the federal stimulus created?” to get a range of figures.

Hawaii’s lead coordinator for the Office of Reinvestment and Recovery, Mark Anderson, explained to Civil Beat why a solid number is so difficult to come by.

“There’s so many different employment numbers flying around,” said Anderson. “Being able to explain how the stimulus funds helped with jobs was one of the requirements of the stimulus. But, it’s turned out to be a little bit confusing… It depends upon thousands of people accurately understanding the reporting methodology and reporting things correctly.”

Thankfully, this Fact Check isn’t interested in determining the total jobs saved or made across the country.

What we’re wondering, is how Hawaii was impacted?

Civil Beat contacted the Hanabusa campaign to see where she got her figure, but a spokesperson said they could not reach the congressional-hopeful for confirmation.

We did find, however, a reference to the number in the Maui News.

“Fully 1,931 of the jobs were with state and local government, according to data released by Recovery.gov and the state,” the newspaper wrote.

When Civil Beat asked Anderson if the stimulus has created “at least 1,931 jobs” in Hawaii, he replied: “Undoubtably.”

He didn’t know what Hanabusa was referring to by “direct” jobs but he was confident the figure she used was by no means an overstatement. Remember, Anderson was appointed to his position by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

The federal stimulus, Anderson told Civil Beat, was disbursed in three relatively equal thirds: 1) tax breaks and credits; 2) benefits; and 3) grants and loans for state and local governments.

States were required to report job creation only for the last of those three.

Recovery.gov explains how jobs are reported to the federal government in the screen shot below:

Using this formula, the federal government reports that in the last reported quarter alone, from April 1 to June 30, there were 3,513 jobs either saved or created in Hawaii.

According to the federal report, “The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” published in July, 2010, Hawaii has seen approximately 13,000 jobs created or saved as a result of the stimulus. (See page 49 of the report.)

Now, some critics say that many of the jobs supposedly created are really little more than temporary government postings used to pad the federal government’s statistics.

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government.com reported one such example. He says that workers hired to help with Census 2010 were routinely hired, fired, and then rehired, with the Census Bureau reporting a new job created each time.

Fox News’ Neil Cavuto also reported on the issue. A clip of his report is embedded below:

Despite possible infractions like these, Anderson told Civil Beat that transitional jobs were meant to be included in the 13,000 figure offered by the federal government for Hawaii.

The reason being that the stimulus never claimed that it would create careers – it was meant to create jobs.

The evidence suggests that while her figure wasn’t precise, Hanabusa was correct that based on numbers provided by the federal government, the stimulus has created jobs in the state.